Vo Van Tu, captain of a fishing boat that was attacked by a Chinese ship off Vietnam's Hoang Sa Islands on January 7, shows damage to his boat. PHOTO COURTESY OF TUOI TRE
Vietnam has asked Chinese authorities to investigate recent assaults by Chinese ships on Vietnamese boats while the latter were fishing off Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands.
The Consular Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Friday that Vietnam also demanded that China compensate affected fishermen, and stop similar incidents from happening in the future.
A representative of the Consular Department met with the representative of the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi last week to hand a diplomatic note protesting the attacks.
Previously, Vietnamese agencies confirmed that on January 7, a Chinese ship chased a Vietnamese fishing boat with seven people aboard.
Once the Chinese ship caught up with the boat, Chinese people controlled Vietnamese fishermen with tasers and stole many things on the boat, including 306 nets and one ton of fish.
On March 1, another Vietnamese fishing boat with 12 people aboard was also detained and robbed by a Chinese marine surveillance ship.
Both the attacked boats were from the central province of Quang Ngai.
China and four members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) -- Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei -- are embroiled in sovereignty disputes over the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea.
China illegally claims sovereignty over 80 percent of the East Sea.
The waters are thought to hold vast untapped reserves of oil and natural gas that could potentially place China, the Philippines, Vietnam, and other claimant nations alongside the likes of Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Qatar.
In 1974, taking advantage of the withdrawal of the American troops from the Vietnam War, China invaded the Paracel Islands. A brief but bloody naval battle with the forces of the then US-backed Republic of Vietnam ensued.
Vietnam's behemoth northern neighbor has illegally occupied the islands ever since. But a post-1975 united Vietnam has never relinquished its ownership of the Paracel Islands and continues to keep military bases and other facilities on the Spratly Islands.
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