China asked to release, compensate arrested Vietnamese fishermen

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The Vietnamese Fisheries Society Monday demanded that China release two Vietnamese fishing boats and 21 sailors that it arrested off Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands on March 3 and compensate them.

In a letter to the Chinese embassy in Hanoi, the society also objected to China's arrest and demanded that it not repeat the act of hindering Vietnamese economic activities and arresting Vietnamese boats and fishermen operating off the Paracels and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos, which belong to Vietnam.

A week earlier the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had demanded that the boats and fishermen be released without the ransom of 70,000 yuan (US$11,000) asked by the Chinese.

Le Viet Chu, vice chairman of the central province of Quang Ngai --where the fishermen and boats are from -- told Thanh Nien that they have yet to receive any information about the fishermen and vessels who are being held on Phu Lam Island in the Paracels.

Local authorities have met the victims' families to offer support and advise them not to pay the ransom, he said.

Phan Thi Anh, wife of Bui Thu, captain of one of the two vessels, said even if the Chinese are insistent about the ransom, her family is too poor to pay.

She hoped the Vietnamese government would continue to persuade China to release them soon.

Since last year 13 boats along with 191 fishermen from Ly Son District -- from where the two captured boats are from -- have been taken in by foreign forces, according to the district authorities.

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