Incident occurred near Paracel Islands prior to July 12 ruling from The Hague.
Vietnam has demanded China explain and compensate for recent attacks on Vietnamese fishing vessels in Vietnamese waters.
Spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) Le Hai Binh said on July 13 that Vietnamese representatives met with counterparts at the Embassy of China in Hanoi to discuss the situation.
The attack occurred when two Vietnamese fishing vessels were pursued by two Chinese vessels and two speedboats during a fishing trip near the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands on July 9, resulting in one boat being sunk, according to Vietnam News Agency.
The two fishing boats were captained by Mr. Huynh Van Khanh and Mr. Vo Van Luu. Five crew members aboard the latter vessel were eventually rescued by the other after Mr. Khanh’s vessel, the smaller of the two, was able to escape.
“Vietnam demands that China provide urgent clarification on the matter and sanction the two vessels responsible for the assault that threatened the lives of Vietnamese fishermen,” Mr. Binh said.
Vietnam also noted that Beijing is bound by international law and must not repeat the violation and must provide reparations for the damage caused by the incident.
The five fisherman aboard Mr. Luu’s boat were brought ashore around 4pm on July 13 in the central province of Quang Ngai. Officers from the provincial Border Guard and Department of Police arrived to assist the fishermen and gather statements in order to investigate.
According to Mr. Luu, two large iron-hulled Chinese vessels with serial numbers 46102 and 56103 chased down and rammed his wooden boat. “I heard a loud noise from the back of the boat before discovering several cracks,” he was reported by local media as saying. “Six people on the two Chinese speedboats boarded our ship and surrounded us.”
He was forced to steer his boat after Mr. Khanh’s vessel despite the damage. “We were threatened with violence if we did not speed up and ram Mr. Khanh’s boat,” he continued. As Mr. Luu’s boat took on water and began to sink, a Chinese man, seemingly fluent in Vietnamese, used the radar system to ask Mr. Khanh to return and help, the captain said.
“It was fortunate that Mr. Khanh did not fall for their trick and instead chose to observe the situation from a distance,” Mr. Luu explained. Officers finished gathering the fishermen’s statement before submitting a report to MoFA and the Fishery Association.
The case occurred before The Hague-based Arbitral Tribunal’s ruling being issued. On July 12 it announced that that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within its “nine-dash line” in the East Sea (South China Sea).
“Although Chinese navigators and fishermen, as well as those of other States, had historically made use of the islands in the South China Sea, there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or their resources,” the tribunal said in its 497-page ruling. “The Tribunal concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’.”