Chinese ships chase Vietnamese fishermen away from Vietnam's waters

By Viet Tuan   October 5, 2019 | 05:36 pm PT
Chinese ships chase Vietnamese fishermen away from Vietnam's waters
A Vietnam Coast Guard vessel and two Navy speedboats are seen off the coast of Khanh Hoa Province in central Vietnam, April 16, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Anh Ngoc.
Three Chinese vessels chased away a Vietnamese fishing boat and prevented it from fishing in an area 112 nautical miles off the central Khanh Hoa Province on Saturday.

The National Committee for Incident, Natural Disaster Response and Search and Rescue has asked the Vietnam Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center to maintain communications with the fishing boat and clarify the situation upon receiving an assistance request from the boat's captain.

The Navy, Coast Guard and the Steering Committee for Search and Rescue of the south central Binh Dinh Province, where the fishing boat is registered, have also been tasked with assisting the vessel in carrying out legal fishing activities within Vietnamese waters.

According to Dr. Tran Cong Truc, former head of the government's Border Committee, the incident of three Chinese vessels chasing away the Binh Dinh fishing boat is a violation of Vietnam's sovereignty and jurisdiction over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Vietnam's sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over waters in the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the East Sea, are determined in accordance with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and Vietnam declared the baseline used for determining its territorial waters on November 12, 1982.

Under the convention, a coastal state's waters include internal waters, territorial waters, contiguous zone, EEZ and continental shelf. Of the five areas, a coastal state's EEZ extends for up to 200 nautical miles from its baseline.

Within its EEZ, a coastal state has jurisdiction and sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living, of the waters superjacent to the seabed and of the seabed and its subsoil, and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such as the production of energy from the water, currents and winds.

UNCLOS also stipulates that all foreign organizations and individuals seeking to exploit natural resources in a coastal state's EEZ must obtain permission from that state.

Last Thursday, a Chinese speedboat deliberately thwarted Vietnamese fishermen's efforts to recover their fishing boat that had sunk near the Passu Keah (Bach Quy) Reef in Vietnam's Paracel (Hoang Sa) Islands the previous day.

In another incident on last week's Sunday, China declined a request from Vietnam to rescue a damaged vessel from the central province of Quang Nam, also near the Passu Keah Reef.

It declined to help on the ground that the vessel only had a mechanical problem and not a life-threatening accident, and suggested that the fishermen contact a professional Chinese ship-rescue firm and pay for its services.

The damaged ship was later rescued by another Vietnamese ship.

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