Fisheries society asks for gov't help as China raises threats

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The Vietnam Fisheries Society has asked government agencies to help stop China from violating Vietnamese marine sovereignty and harassing local fishermen.

The association made the request in a letter to the government office, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday.

It quoted its member society in the central province of Quang Ngai as saying that since the beginning of this year Chinese ships have increasingly disrupted the activities of local fishing boats in the waters of Vietnam's Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes.

Although they did not detain Vietnamese boats as they had done previously, they frequently chased the boats out of contested waters, used water cannons to destroy their engines, and stoned and shot at Vietnamese fishermen, it said.

They have often confiscated property, communication devices, fishing tools and fuel from Vietnamese boats, it added.

For instance, a Quang Ngai boat was robbed and shot at by a Chinese ship on January 28.

The Vietnamese boat, which was then operating off the Hoang Sa Archipelago, was boarded and robbed before being driven out of the area.

Chinese ships, including marine surveillance vessels, disturbed, robbed and chased away other five boats on March 11-23.

In the letter, the fisheries society also accused Chinese forces of interfering with telecommunications in Hoang Sa, meaning attacked boats were unable to report the attacks to authorities immediately.

These "long-lasting" and "systematic" actions by China must aim at something bigger than violating Vietnam's island and sea sovereignty, it said.

In related news, that same day a Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative met with a representative of  the Chinese embassy in Hanoi to hand over a diplomatic note objecting to the chase and harassment of a Vietnamese boat by a Chinese ship on March 20.

The Chinese vessel fired on the Vietnamese one.

Speaking at a press conference that day, Foreign Ministry spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi said the incident took place in the waters of Vietnam's Hoang Sa Archipelago a traditional fishing ground, and destroyed the cabin roof of the Quang Ngai fishing boat.

It was a "very serious" case that violated Vietnamese sovereignty over the Hoang Sa Archipelago, threatened Vietnamese fishermen's lives and damaged their property, Nghi said.

It also violated international rules, namely the Declaration of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and the ground rules for resolving maritime issues the countries agreed by Vietnam and China, he stressed.

Vietnam demands that China investigate the matter and strictly punish those responsible for the "wrongful" and "inhumane" act, as well as to compensate the Vietnamese fishermen for their suffering, Nghi said.

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