Bui Tan Doan, a fisherman on the Vietnamese fishing boat coded QNg 95193 TS, has his leg broken in an attack by Chinese forces on June 7. Photo: Hien Cu
Chinese ships repeatedly attacked and robbed Vietnamese fishermen near Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands in the East Sea, the Vietnamese term for the South China Sea, in the last 10 days, local media reported.
At 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the fishing boat coded QNg 95431 hailing from the central province of Quang Ngai was chased after by a Chinese boat coded 4044 off the Paracel Islands, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported.
Minutes later, the Chinese boat crashed into the Vietnamese boat. The Chinese crew reportedly attacked the Vietnamese fishermen and took away all the properties onboard.
Nguyen Van Tan, the 58-year-old captain of the boat, informed a local fishing association of the attack, adding that one of the fishers was severely injured.
Tan said he was turning the boat home to treat the injured crew member.
Since then all contact with the boat has been lost.
The same day, two other fishing boats from the province also reported that they were harassed by Chinese vessels for five consecutive hours while fishing off the Paracels.
At around 4 a.m. last Sunday, a fishing boat coded QNg 90205, also from Quang Ngai, was harassed by a group of Chinese ships around two nautical miles from Phu Lam Island of the Paracels.
A Chinese ship reportedly chased after the Vietnamese boat in two hours. After the ship failed to make the boat stop, it called two canoes and another ship to the site.
The two canoes and two ships then surrounded the Vietnamese boat at around 9 a.m.
Around 20 Chinese men in camouflage combat clothes jumped into the Vietnamese boat and cornered all 11 Vietnamese fishers.
The Chinese men then destroyed equipment on the boat, took away some properties and transferred five tons of catch from the boat to their ships before leaving.
Nguyen Van Minh, the 28-year-old captain of the boat, called some nearby fishing boats for help.
He said the total costs of damage were more than VND300 million (US$13,758).
On June 7, a Chinese ship coded 3402 fired water cannons at a Vietnamese fishing boat off the Paracels. When the Vietnamese fishers demanded it to stop, Chinese men fired the cannons at them, breaking the cabin’s window and causing water to flow into the boat.
One of the Vietnamese crew members named Cao Xuan Ly passed out. Bui Tan Doan, 23, got his leg broken after he was thrown into the boat’s side.
Doan said the Chinese ships previously chased the boat for six consecutive days. On June 7, the fishers decided not to run away to see what would happen.
“Chinese ships also harassed Vietnamese boats in previous years, but this year they became more aggressive,” he said.
Currently, 29 fishing boats from Quang Ngai's Binh Chau Commune are still fishing off the Paracels.
They were encouraged by the Binh Chau Fishing Association to keep up their work and not to be deterred by Chinese harassment.
China has claimed Vietnam’s Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos as its own.
Chinese fishing boats and coast guard ships have bullied Vietnamese fishermen operating in the area for decades. The harassment has become particularly pronounced in recent years.
Vietnamese officials have repeatedly complained that the attacks represent a blatant human rights violation -- to little effect.
Many poor households in Quang Ngai rely on fishing for their livelihoods. Roughly 5,460 wooden fishing boats operate in the province, according to official statistics.
Last July, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung promised to make VND4.5 trillion ($206 million) available to help Vietnamese fishermen build better fishing boats to protect themselves from Chinese attacks and other threats.