Amid China’s sabre-rattling, Vietnam calls for fair, humane treatment of fishers

By Vu Anh   November 5, 2020 | 05:39 am PT
Amid China’s sabre-rattling, Vietnam calls for fair, humane treatment of fishers
A Chinese coast guard vessel closes in on the Senkaku Islands on the East China Sea. Photo courtesy of the Japanese Coast Guard.
Vietnam has stressed the need for countries to treat fishers fairly and humanely even as China ups the military ante.

The ASEAN-China workshop on promoting cooperation in ensuring just and humane treatment of fishermen in the East Sea took place on Tuesday.

Duong Hoai Nam, deputy spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a press meet Thursday the workshop "was a way for us to deliver a message to countries in the region and ASEAN regarding the protection of rights and legitimate interests of Vietnamese fishers and those of other countries in sea areas under their sovereignty."

The East Sea is internationally referred to as the South China Sea.

Nam was responding to inquiries regarding a draft resolution presented at the Chinese National People’s Congress Wednesday, allowing the nation’s coast guards to use weapons against foreign vessels.

"Vietnam has full legal basis and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly islands. Vietnam always supports the resolution of conflicts through peaceful negotiations in accordance with international law, including the UNCLOS," Nam said.

The draft introduced at the Chinese National People’s Congress allows the nation’s coast guards to use weapons to deter foreign vessels from illegally entering Chinese territorial waters and to interrogate members on board such vessels.

The draft also allows coast guards to use weapons on vessels that do not comply with Chinese regulations on territorial waters, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. China’s territorial claims in the East Sea, including Vietnam’s Spratly and Paracel archipelagos, have been rejected by the international community.

China has multiple times used force against foreign vessels at sea, including those from Vietnam, even going so far as sinking them.

The U.S. Department of State condemned China for sinking a Vietnamese fishing boat in April, calling it an assertion of an "unlawful" claim. In June, the Vietnam Fisheries Society demanded China pays compensation for the "inhumane" ramming and looting of a Vietnamese fishing boat, while Vietnam’s foreign ministry demanded an investigation into the incident.

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