Vietnam asks ASEAN to take note of threats against fishers in South China Sea

By Vu Hoang   June 23, 2019 | 07:34 pm PT
Vietnam asks ASEAN to take note of threats against fishers in South China Sea
A fisherman jumps from his fishing boat on the island of Ly Son near Vietnam's Hoang Sa Islands. Photo by Reuters/File
Vietnam has called on ASEAN to pay attention to events occurring in the South China Sea, including the intimidation of fishermen and militarization.

Speaking at the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, on Sunday, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said ASEAN also needs to consider and acknowledge positive development in the negotiations for the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) between the bloc and China, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Phuc said that next year, as the ASEAN chair, Vietnam would work to raise ASEAN’s status on the global stage by enhancing its links with the U.N. Vietnam was elected non-permanent U.N. Security Council member for 2020-2021 term earlier this month.

China lays claim to almost the entire South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the East Sea, including waters close to Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. 

It has occupied some archipelagos illegally and created artificial islands, turning them into garrisons.

On June 9, a Filipino fishing boat with 22 crew members was sunk near Reed Bank in Vietnam's Spratly Islands. The crew said a Chinese ship rammed into them and abandoned them to drown. They were rescued by a Vietnamese fishing boat.

On June 2, a Vietnamese boat from the central province of Quang Nam with 10 crew members on board was anchored around 22 nautical miles from Triton Island off the Paracels when a Chinese-flagged vessel approached and issued death threats against them. Then a group of men from the Chinese vessel boarded the Vietnamese boat and took away two tons of squid worth more than VND250 million ($10,706).

Last March, a Chinese vessel rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing boat from the central province of Quang Ngai while it was fishing in the Da Loi (Discovery) Reef off the Paracel Archipelago.

Vietnam has protested both actions and demanded compensation from China. Vietnam has repeatedly said it has full legal basis and historical evidence to prove its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands in the sea, and legal rights over its waters in accordance with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

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