A Vietnamese boat was severely damaged by a Chinese warship while operating in its traditional fishing ground near Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago last week.
The attack represented one of many this year.
Nguyen Do, the boat's owner and Captain Mai Van Cuong returned to their homes on Ly Son island (off the coast of Quang Ngai Province) on Saturday afternoon aboard their damaged boat, Tien Phong (Pioneer) newspaper reported.
Cuong said the boat sailed out on June 21 with 13 men aboard and was attacked on July 3, the same day six of his colleagues were arrested by Chinese maritime police in the Gulf of Tonkin.
He said a Chinese vessel armed with guns and canons appeared on the horizon at around 4 p.m. and began rapidly approaching while they were casting nets around 10 nautical miles from Linh Con, an island in the Hoang Sa archipelago.
The boat chased them for more than 30 minutes before a voice came over its loudspeaker and asked them to stop, the 31-year-old said.
He ignored the directive and says he sped up and tried, unsuccessfully, to get away.
The Chinese crew members threw axes, iron bars and other hard objects through the windows, smashing every bit of glass on the boat and destroying its fish finder, he told Tien Phong.
Several pieces of fishing equipment dropped into the sea and several wood panels were damaged when the Chinese boat rammed his boat’s stern before leaving the area, Cuong said.
The damages were estimated at more than VND150 million (US$7,000).
Mai Van Cuong, a fisherman from Quang Ngai Province, with his boat that was damaged by Chinese boat attacks in late 2013. Photo credit: Tien Phong
Pham Truong Tho, vice chairman of Quang Ngai, told a delegation from the Ministry of Agriculture on Sunday that China has illegally stopped, chased and damaged 27 fishing boats from the province so far this year--15 of those attacks took place after it deployed a US$1-billion oil rig into Vietnamese waters on May 2.
China has sent hundreds of military, coast guard and armored fishing boats to guard the oil rig and attack any Vietnamese boats in the area.
Cuong’s boat was also rammed and damaged by a Chinese boat near Hoang Sa late last year.
Tho said fishing is the primary source of livelihood for Quang Ngai locals, who operate 5,459 fishing boats.
But all of them are wooden and are vulnerable to attack, he said.
Last week, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung promised to spend VND4.5 trillion ($211.5 million) to help local fishermen build stronger boats to survive the rising sea tension with China.
The central city of Da Nang launched its first steel fishing boat on Sunday. It's estimated to be worth nearly VND11 billion ($517,000) and benefitted from a VND7 million grant from the state-owned Shipbuilding Industry Corporation.