Chinese boats refuse to help Vietnamese boats in distress

By Viet Tuan   June 19, 2018 | 04:03 am PT
Chinese boats refuse to help Vietnamese boats in distress
Vietnamese fishing boats anchor off the central coast. Photo by Reuters
20 boats that sought shelter from rough weather were driven off Hoang Sa Islands.

Chinese ships on Monday drove away 20 Vietnamese fishing boats seeking shelter on the Paracel (Hoang Sa) Archipelago from weather conditions generated by a tropical depression.

The captains of the boats requested assistance from the Vietnamese government so that they could dock on the islands safely. The Vietnam Consular Department under the foreign ministry then contacted the Chinese government and requested "favorable conditions" for the 100 or so fishermen as well as all Vietnamese fishermen operating in the East Sea, which is known internationally as the South China Sea.

Vietnamese maritime officials also cooperated with Chinese counterparts to maintain contact with the fishermen to help them dock safely on the nearest island.

The Monday encounter was not the first problem Vietnam has had with Chinese boats this year.

Last April, Chinese fishing boats showed up illegally near Vietnamese coast thrice and sometimes they were only 30 nautical miles from Da Nang, which is considered Vietnam's third most important city after Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.

Vietnamese officials have been on edge about China's recent moves in the East Sea.

They have repeatedly stressed sovereignty rights over the waterway amid China's recent military moves including bomber drills and live-fire drills.

China seized the Paracel Islands from South Vietnam by force in 1974, and has since been illegally occupying the islands. In July 2012, China established a so-called "Sansha City" with Vietnam's Woody Island in the Paracels as its seat.

The so-called city also covers a number of reefs in Vietnam's Spratly Islands that China seized by force in 1988 and the Scarborough Shoal, which is claimed by the Philippines.

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