Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has condemned a recent incident wherein a local fishing boat sank following a collision with a Chinese vessel near a group of South China Sea islands which the two countries claim as part of their sovereign territory.
The incident occurred on Thursday, April 2, when the fishing boat QNg 90617 TS with eight crew on board collided with the China Coast Guard patrol vessel Haijing 4301 near Woody Island in the Paracels.
The MOFA said QNg 90617 TS and its crew were carrying out normal fishing activities when it was deliberately rammed by the Chinese vessel, leading to the former’s sinking.
All eight fishermen were rescued by the China Coast Guard crew and have since been brought back to Quang Ngai province where they are based.
The day after the sinking, a MOFA official lodged a diplomatic note of protest with a representative of the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi to request Beijing to investigate the incident, to discipline the crew of the coast guard vessel, to prevent the recurrence of similar actions, and to make adequate compensation for economic losses suffered by the Vietnamese fishermen.
The MOFA said that the presence of the China Coast Guard vessel in the waters of the Paracels already constituted a violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty over the islands.
The China Coast Guard has refuted the MOFA’s claims, saying that it was QNg 90617 TS that had illegally entered Chinese waters.
The coast guard added that it was the Vietnamese fishing boat that had rammed Haijing 4301 and not the other way around.
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