Vietnamese fishers have accused a group of Chinese soldiers of chasing their boat off Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands late last month.
The fishers onboard the boat owned by Tran Quang Pho, 43, of Binh Thuan Province went on a fishing trip at 1:30 p.m. on May 30. When they were around 10 nautical miles from Chau Vien (Cuarteron) Reef in Truong Sa, a Chinese-flagged high-speed canoe chased after their boat.
Chau Vien is a coral reef belonging to Vietnam's Truong Sa islands. It was occupied by Chinese forces on February 28, 1988. Since 2013, China has enhanced construction activities there, turning Chau Vien into an artificial island and the most important military base among the seven Vietnamese reefs they had occupied, for the East Sea, also known as the South China Sea.
According to the fishers, the canoe tried to approach the Vietnamese boat. Seven Chinese soldiers in military camouflage clothing then used horns and loudspeakers to chase the boat out of the area.
Four of the soldiers were holding guns in their hands, the fishers said.
At first the Chinese soldiers yelled at the Vietnamese fishers via the loudspeaker, but the latter did not know the Chinese language.
The Chinese vessel then approached the boat, and the Chinese soldiers used sign language to order the boat to stop.
Four Chinese soldiers pointed the guns at the Vietnamese fishers to threaten them.
The fishers then sped up towards an island around four nautical miles away, where a Vietnamese naval brigade is stationed.
The Chinese canoe did not chase after them.