Vietnam objects to the inhumane treatment of its fishermen and are verifying a case in which local fishers reported that a Chinese ship rammed their fishing boat, sinking it in Vietnamese waters last month.
Spokesman for the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Le Hai Binh made the statement at a regular press briefing in Hanoi on Thursday in reply to reporters’ question on the alleged attack off Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago.
“Once again, we reiterate that Vietnam strongly opposes any violent action or use or threat of force against Vietnamese fishermen under any circumstances,” Binh said.
Vietnam has repeatedly affirmed that it has full legal and historical evidence to prove its sovereignty over Hoang Sa, the spokesman said.
The waters of Hoang Sa are a long-standing fishing ground of Vietnamese fishers, Binh said, adding that the ministry will take an official and proper response to any prevention by foreign vessels of the normal operation of Vietnamese fishermen in the area.
Dang Dung, 40, the captain of the sunken ship, from the central province of Quang Ngai, told officials at the province’s Tinh Ky Border Guard Station on Tuesday that his ship sank after being rammed by a Chinese ship late last month.
Dung said he and five other crew members were rescued by another Vietnamese fishing boat and taken ashore in Tinh Ky District.
On September 29, a Chinese ship got close to Dung’s vessel when it was fishing off Hoang Sa, the captain said.
As soon as the Chinese vessel crashed into the local ship on its right side, five members of the foreign crew boarded the fishing boat and threatened the Vietnamese fishermen with electric bludgeons and knives.
The foreigners then took away two fish finders, two positioning machines, eight air hose reels, some diving devices, and a walkie-talkie, along with nearly two metric tons of aquatic products, before leaving the scene, Dung said.
After they left, Dung discovered that his ship had suffered a break through which water was leaking into his vessel.
The ship gradually sank while Dung was trying to steer the boat toward Da Loi Island, part of Hoang Sa.
He also attempted to contact other local fishing boats for help via an emergency internal communications system (Icom), but the captain failed.
At about 7:00 pm, Dung successfully made contact with another Vietnamese ship also from Quang Ngai, QNg-90440, which then rushed to the scene and rescued all crew members.
The victims were then transferred to another local fishing ship, QNg-096697, which took them ashore.