Crew members of five Vietnamese fishing boats on Monday reported that they were attacked by a fleet of large Chinese vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin last week.
Dao Ngoc Duc, captain of a boat from the central city of Da Nang, told Tien Phong newspaper that “countless” armored Chinese boats rushed over at around 2 a.m. on November 14.
He said the Chinese vessels took over the area where the five Vietnamese boats were fishing. They then pulled up dozens of fishing nets and destroyed them.
"We could only saved around ten nets, which were almost torn out anyway,” he said, as cited by Tien Phong newspaper.
He said the tension lasted for seven hours, describing the experience "terrifying."
Duc said the Chinese vessels were the largest and most aggressive he had ever encountered over the past 30 years as a fisherman.
They sailed in pairs and it seemed like they were there to damage the fishing nets of Vietnamese boats, he said.
Dao Ngoc Be, Duc’s brother, said all the nets were new after the boat was attacked in late 2014. That time the Chinese destroyed 120 of his nets, he said.
Be said he had to borrow bank loans of more than VND800 million (US$35,700) for the new nets, and now he lost another VND300 million
“I’m broke,” he told Tien Phong.
Local officials said they have to check further to make sure if the Chinese boats were intruding into Vietnamese waters or just sailing in the shared fishing area.