Vietnam rescues 22 Filipinos after Chinese vessel sinks boat

By Nguyen Quy, Vo Hai   June 12, 2019 | 11:59 pm PT
Vietnam rescues 22 Filipinos after Chinese vessel sinks boat
Chinese fishermen approach a Philippine boat to trade goods at the disputed Scarborough Shoal. Photo by Reuters/Erik De Castro.
A Vietnamese boat saved 22 Filipino fishermen after their boat was rammed and sunk by a Chinese vessel in the South China Sea.

The Chinese vessel Sunday rammed a Filipino boat anchored near Reed Bank in the South China Sea, known as the East Sea in Vietnam, sinking it and abandoning the fishermen on board, the AFP reported, citing a statement by Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

The Reed Bank belongs to Vietnam’s Spratly (Truong Sa) Archipelago. Vietnam has full legal basis and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands in the waterway, as well as legal rights over its waters in accordance with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The Filipino fishermen were later rescued by a Vietnamese fishing boat.

"We denounce the actions of the Chinese fishing vessel for immediately leaving the incident scene and abandoning the 22 Filipino crewmen to the mercy of the elements," Lorenzana said.

He also thanked the captain and crew of Vietnamese boat for saving the lives of the 22 Filipino crew while calling for a formal investigation on the incident and for diplomatic steps be taken to prevent a repeat of such events.

The Vietnamese fishermen are from Tien Giang Province in the southern Mekong Delta. They have continued their fishing voyage after making sure that the Filipinos were safe, said Tien Giang's fisheries officials.

Last March, Chinese vessel numbered 44101 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, according to the National Committee for Incident, Natural Disaster Response and Search and Rescue.

Following the incident, Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs handed over a diplomatic note to representatives from the Chinese embassy in Hanoi to protest the Chinese vessel’s action and demanded due compensation for Vietnamese fishermen.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, including waters close to Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. It has also put up artificial islands turning them into garrisons.

China seized the Paracel Islands from South Vietnam by force in 1974, and has since been illegally occupying them. In 2012 it established the so-called Sansha City with the archipelago's Woody Island as its seat. The "city" also covers a number of reefs in the Spratly Islands that China seized by force in 1988 and the Scarborough Shoal.

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