Vietnam beefs up sea patrols with aircraft in response to Chinese abuse

TN News

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Vietnam's maritime police are strengthening patrols in central province waters with aircraft, as Chinese transgressions are increasing, Saigon Tiep Thi newspaper reported on Friday.

Le Trong Pho, head of the politics division at Maritime Police Zone 2, based in the central province of Quang Nam, was quoted as saying that airplanes will join the patrols in the near future to deal with foreign ships that violate Vietnam's water borders.

The maritime police agency, which manages waters covering 720 kilometers of coastline from Quang Tri to Binh Dinh provinces, will also establish posts on islands to work with the aircraft patrols, Pho said.

Meanwhile, police ships have been equipped with 100-kilometer radars, the official said, adding that the ships can also operate at sea for 45 days without coming back to shelter.

Asked about fishermen's complaints that they could not contact related agencies when encountering Chinese ships, Pho said they have distributed over 10,000 leaflets with the day and night radio frequencies of maritime police to fishermen.

According to Pho, more and more Chinese fishing ships have appeared in the East Sea recently, and they have even approached islands belonging to Vietnam's central provinces.

"It is true that Chinese fishing ships have violated central Vietnam's sea waters, especially after China lifted its ban on fishing (in the East Sea) early this month," he said.

"Chinese ships entered deeply into waters near Vietnam's Ly Son Island...with between 18-30 ships each time."

Maritime Police Zone 2 forces have encountered dozens of Chinese ships a month since the beginning of this year, the official told the newspaper.

He also showed Saigon Tiep Thi reporters clips of maritime police pursuing Chinese marine surveillance ships in the waters of Vietnam's Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago.

The visual evidence has refuted last month 's Chinese media claims that Chinese ships had blocked and chased Vietnamese police ships, the newspaper said.

"Vietnamese maritime police have sufficient evidence showing that China was trying to distort the truth. No such thing happened as claimed by China," Pho was quoted as saying in a report by Tien Phong.

Eradicators

According to Saigon Tiep Thi, many fishermen in Quang Ngai province said that Chinese ships were fishing in the country's waters as if they were "eradicating" marine resources - they usually go in pairs and take all marine species large and small.

An unnamed official from the Maritime Police Zone 2 was also quoted as saying Chinese ships are equipped with advanced fish detectors and radars, adding that they are getting more "stubborn."

"Previously, if encountering Vietnam's public ships, they would flee. But now, after one ship is chased from Vietnamese waters, another appears and fishes illegally," he said

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Meanwhile, Phung Dinh Toan, a leader of the Quang Ngai Province Fishery Association, told the newspaper that special fishing surveillance forces were supposed to deal with the foreign ships that violate national waters.

However, at the moment just two surveillance ships are operating in the Bac Bo Bay, he said.

"Fishing surveillance ships are available in other provinces but they operate ineffectively, because they are only able to operate within a range of 24 sea miles," Toan said.

He also said the number of ships was inadequate and the ships themselves also lacked the equipment needed for the effective protection of Vietnam's fishing areas.

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