The Vietnam Fisheries Society (VFS) on Monday issued a statement demanding China to release a Vietnamese fishing boat and six fishermen on board that it seized four days ago.
China must stop harassing, obstructing, robbing and illegally arresting Vietnamese fishermen right away and must offer due compensation to the victims, VFS said.
The fishermen were arrested while they were fishing in disputed waters near the Tonkin Gulf, their traditional fishing ground, on July 3, Vietnamese authorities said.
China's Foreign Ministry confirmed the arrest on July 4, claiming that the fishermen had "broken the law" by working in Chinese territorial waters 7 nautical miles south of Hainan Island.
On July 5, the Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked its embassy in Beijing to work with concerned Chinese agencies to verify the information and take necessary measures to protect the fishermen.
The arrest was the first since China illegally deployed the giant oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 in Vietnam’s continental shelf and exclusive economic zone in early May.
Over the years, however, hundreds of Vietnamese fishermen and their crews have fallen prey to China's increasingly aggressive patrols around the disputed islands in the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea.
Since the deployment of the oil rig, China’s armed vessels have aggressively and consistently fired high-power water cannons at and intentionally rammed against Vietnamese public-service and civil ships, causing damage to many boats and injuring many people on board.
On July 7, China still kept around 110 ships of all kinds, including five military ships around the rig, the Vietnam News Agency reported Monday.
In related news, the Vietnam National Assembly’s Committee for Defense and Security and the Japanese House of Representatives’ Committee on Security on Monday agreed to work together in enhancing the capacity of Vietnamese coast guard.
The agreement was reached during a working session on July 7 between Chairman of the NA Committee for Defense and Security Nguyen Kim Khoa and the Japanese congressmen, the Vietnam News Agency reported.
Khoa valued Japan for coming up with early support for Vietnam in the East Sea issue, stressing that the country consistently pursues peaceful measures in settling disputes with China.
He expressed hope that Japan together with many nations in the region and in the world will continue supporting Vietnam’s stance on observing international law and ensuring navigation and trade freedom and safety in the East Sea.
Chairman of the Japanese committee Eto Akinori spoke highly of Vietnam’s efforts in solving East Sea disputes peacefully in line with international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the ASEAN – China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea .
He said Japan is willing to cooperate with the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) in safeguarding sea and air security and peace and maintaining maritime and aviation freedom.