Vietnam house plans to spend $756 mln on coast guard

By Bao Cam, Thanh Nien News

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A Vietnam Coast Guard ship on a patrol. Photo credit: Tien Phong Newspaper
The National Assembly, Vietnam’s parliament, has endorsed plans to spend VND16 trillion (US$756.8 million) for the coast guard and fisheries surveillance forces tasked with protecting the country's maritime borders.
Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, the vice house speaker, made the announcement at a session Monday in Hanoi and asked lawmakers to further discuss the plan.
The money will also be spent to support Vietnamese fishermen who do their jobs in the country’s territorial waters, according to the house.
On Sunday, Deputy Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh told Reuters that Vietnam is expecting a new fleet of Japanese coast guard ships early next year.
Vinh made the comments as Hanoi looks to boost its defenses amid a territorial row with China in the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea.
He said Japan, itself locked in a bitter territorial spat with China, was helping Vietnam to train its coastguard and share information, as well as provide some patrol vessels.
"The process is coming along very well and we plan to receive the ships by early next year," Vinh said in an interview on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Asia's biggest security forum.
Since the beginning of May, China illegally dispatched a US$1-billion oil rig, as well as an armada of armed vessels, military ships and aircraft into Vietnamese waters.
After positioning the rig 80 miles inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, Chinese ships have repeatedly rammed and fired water cannons at Vietnamese coast guard and fisheries surveillance ships, leaving the vessels damaged and officers injured.
Tensions heightened last week when a Chinese ship rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing vessel not far from the oil rig.
On Sunday, another Chinese ship blasted and rammed a Vietnam Coast Guard vessel, leaving four big holes in the right side of the vessel.

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