All these years, when Vietnamese fishermen were attacked by foreign boats at sea, we would always give the latter the benefit of doubt.
We would call them "unknown," pending conclusion of investigations into the attacks in order to identify the perpetrators.
However, in the latest incident, which took place last Thursday at some 120 nautical miles off Vietnam's central coast, there was no doubt whatsoever. The identity of the attackers was clear, as was their objective.
Chinese patrol ships illegally entered Vietnam's territorial waters and cut the cables of the state-owned Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam)'s ship which was then engaged in oil exploration work
During the act, one of them, numbered No. 84, was filmed by the Vietnamese ship Binh Minh No. 02's crew who tried to stop it, but all the attempts went useless.
China has started to act in accordance with its claim to 80 percent of the East Sea. It has violated a country with established and solid sovereignty using big ships carrying official flags and number signs, even though the infamous nine-dash, or U-shaped line, which identifes the claim on its maps is considered groundless by many experts.
The latest act has also showed China's bossy attitude and how it is challenging international opinion.
Moreover, all of the agreements on the Code of Conduct in the East Sea that China signed with ASEAN countries in 2002 have been proved useless, lacking any practical meaning.
Now, we need to make official responses to China's latest violation with strong determination shown by high-ranking leaders.
Over the past few years, dozens of Vietnamese fishing boats, mainly those from the central province of Quang Ngai, have been attacked by Chinese boats when they were fishing in Vietnamese waters without causing any disorder.
In some cases they were arrested and asked to pay ransom, leading to their bankruptcy. In others, their boats were simply sunk.
Still, we have refrained from bold reactions in order to not complicate and worsen the situation.
But, China has disrespected and abused our restraint. It has continued to act unreasonably. In fact, many times Chinese boats have entered very deep into Vietnamese territorial waters, sometimes just five nautical miles off Ly Son Island in the central province of Quang Ngai.
If we don't respond to its acts properly now, we will suffer more than economic losses. We will suffer the injury caused to our people's dignity.