Vietnam slams China's East Sea aggression

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Vietnamese fishing boats near Da Tay island in the Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago in the East Sea. PHOTO: REUTERS 

Vietnam has strongly condemned the actions of a Chinese ship that chased and illegally boarded and stole belongings of
two Vietnamese fishing vessels on July 7.

The incident took place in Vietnamese waters off the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago.

"These acts have violated Vietnam's sovereignty over Hoang Sa Archipelago and Vietnam's sovereign rights as well as its jurisdiction over the East Sea," Vietnam's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Luong Thanh Nghi said in a statement on July 17.

"It runs counter to the spirit of humane treatment of fishermen, the stipulations of international law and the spirit of the agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of marine issues between Vietnam and China, as well as the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC)," he said.

Local media reported that the Chinese ship chased after the two Vietnamese fishing boats of Quang Ngai fishermen which were fishing in their regular grounds in Vietnamese waters.

The Chinese crew went on to board and search the Vietnamese boats, cause some damage and take away some property.

Nghi said a representative of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has met Chinese Embassy officials in Hanoi and handed a diplomatic note protesting the act.

Vietnam has demanded that China launch an investigation and strictly deal with the wrongdoings, compensate the Vietnamese fishermen, and prevent the recurrence of similar incidents in the future.

During a visit to China last month of Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang, the two sides agreed to establish a hotline to resolve fishing incidents in the contested waters of the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea.

"The latest fisheries incidents are an early test of both sides' abilities to sustain and implement the Vietnam-China joint communiqué signed in June, particularly the agreement to set up a hotline to defuse incidents involving fishing vessels around the Paracels," said Euan Graham, a maritime analyst with Singapore's Nanyang Technological University.

Both Vietnam and the Philippines have complained about Chinese activity and even harassment in contested parts of the East Sea which covers important shipping routes and is thought to hold untapped oil and gas reserves.

China's claim is by far the largest, forming a vast U-shape over most of the sea's 648,000 square miles (1.7 million square km), including Vietnam's Truong Sa (Spratly) and Paracel archipelagos, a move emphatically rejected by international experts.

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