The fishermen of two Vietnamese boats said they had been attacked by Chinese vessels while the former were operating in their traditional fishing ground near Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago last week.
Bui Tan Doan, 23, a fisherman of one of the boats, said he and another crew member, Cao Xuan Ly, were injured after a Chinese vessel fired water cannons at his boat on June 7.
Doan said the Chinese ship sprayed water cannons at his boat, with 13 men aboard, for two hours on that day, damaging the cabin and flooding the boat.
“We signaled the ship not to use water cannons any more but they continued to do so while we were bailing water out,” Doan told Thanh Nien at his home in the central province of Quang Ngai on Saturday.
“My left leg was broken. Doctors said I wouldn't be able to walk in the next three months,” he said.
Nguyen Van Phu, 29, captain and owner of the other boat from Quang Ngai, said he and 10 other crew members were attacked and robbed on June 10.
Phu said four Chinese vessels rounded on before six people from them swooped in piloting two speedboats, smashed his boat and took away valuable equipment including icoms, walkie talkies, and fish detectors.
“They also forced us to hand all the catch, weighing around six tons, to their vessels,” Nguyen Van Tien, a crew member of Phu’s boat recalled.
Phu said the material damage totaled around VND544 million (US$24,960).
China has claimed Vietnam’s Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos as its own.
Chinese fishing boats and coast guard ships have bullied Vietnamese fishermen operating in the area for decades. The harassment has become particularly pronounced in recent years.
Vietnamese officials have repeatedly complained that the attacks represent a blatant human rights violation -- to little effect.
Many poor households in Quang Ngai rely on fishing for their livelihoods. Roughly 5,460 wooden fishing boats operate in the province, according to official statistics.
Last July, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung promised to make VND4.5 trillion ($206 million) available to help Vietnamese fishermen build better fishing boats to protect themselves from Chinese attacks and other threats.