Vietnam protests use of force against fishing boats; govt says that all fishermen deserve to make a living at the seas

Spokeswoman of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pham Thu Hang. - Vietnam News/ANN

HANOI (Voetnam News/ANN): Vietnam opposes any use of force against its fishing vessels operating normally at sea, threatening the life and safety as well as causing damage to the property and interests of fishermen, running counter to international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UNCLOS), said spokeswoman of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pham Thu Hang.

Responding to reporters’ queries regarding the information about a Vietnamese fishing boat attacked while operating in the waters of Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel), Hang said competent Vietnamese agencies are urgently verifying the case.

Vietnam has repeatedly affirmed that it has full legal basis and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over Hoang Sa in line with international law, as well as its sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the waters defined in line with the 1982 UNCLOS, she stressed.

Two Vietnamese fishermen were injured when a Chinese Coast Guard vessel fired a water cannon at their boat near the contested Paracel Islands, the latest casualties in China’s aggressive campaign to expand its control in the South China Sea.

Tuesday’s incident, ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Vietnam on Sept 10, happened as the fishing boat was moving from Woody Island to Observation Bank in the waters surrounding the Paracels, Vietnamese state media reported.

The ship’s owner, Huynh Van Hoanh, 43, suffered a broken right arm while fisherman Huynh Van Tien sustained a head injury during the attack by Coast Guard ship 4201.

The Paracel Islands, known as the Xisha Islands in Chinese and the Hoàng Sa Archipelago in Vietnamese, comprise about 130 small coral islands and reefs.

Claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan, they have been occupied entirely by Beijing since 1974 after the Chinese navy defeated the then-South Vietnamese navy in a brief sea battle. Triton is the closest island in the chain to Vietnam.

Researcher Nguyen The Phuong from the University of New South Wales in Canberra, Australia, said he expected to see more tensions between China and Vietnam in the South China Sea as the date of Biden’s trip approached.

Regardless of whether Vietnam and the US upgrade their relationship to a “comprehensive strategic partnership” or “strategic partnership,” China will continue its maritime strategy of “rocking the tree to threaten the monkey,” he said. - Vietnam News/ANN

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