Fishers in some south central provinces said the number of Chinese vessels off Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands has increased significantly since late 2013.
The fishers in the central provinces of Binh Thuan, Binh Dinh and Phu Yen said clashes between Chinese vessels, including fishing boats, tug boats, sea patrol boats and even warships, and Vietnamese fishing boats have become common.
Tran Quang Pho, the 43-year-old captain of a fishing boat in Binh Thuan, said the number of Chinese vessels, especially armored fishing boats, increased dramatically since late 2013, when China intensified illegal construction activities on seven reefs in Truong Sa that it had occupied in late 1980s.
Before 2013, Chinese fishing boats usually went in groups of three to five to support one another during long trips. But recently they went individually as they can easily dock at some ports that China had illegally built in Truong Sa for fuel refills.
Vietnamese fishers claimed that some Chinese armored fishing boats usually approached Vietnamese islands for spying purposes.
Below are photos of Chinese vessels taken by Thanh Nien's reporters in Truong Sa between May and June.
Photos taken by Mai Thanh Hai, Bao Nam and Bao Ngan