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China seizes Vietnamese fishing boats

Other News Materials 14 December 2009 10:32 (UTC +04:00)
Chinese naval patrols seized three Vietnamese fishing boats in the South China Sea and held their 43 crew members for three days, a Vietnamese official said Monday.
China seizes Vietnamese fishing boats

Chinese naval patrols seized three Vietnamese fishing boats in the South China Sea and held their 43 crew members for three days, a Vietnamese official said Monday, DPA reported.

The boats were seized on December 7 and 8 near the Paracel Islands, said Colonel Bui Phu Phu, deputy chief of Vietnam's coast guard in the fishermen's home province of Quang Ngai. Chinese forces held them for several days at Woody Island, the largest of the Paracels.

The Chinese on Thursday placed all of the men on the oldest of the boats and released them. They kept the two newer boats, which held 20 tons of fish and 3,000 litres of diesel fuel.

"We have asked Quang Ngai's People's Committee to request that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs protest to China," Phu said.

Le Van Loc, captain of one of the boats that was kept, told the German Press Agency dpa that he had been forced to hold a package of explosives in front of his chest while the Chinese photographed him.

He and the other captains also had to write and sign confessions testifying they had used explosives to catch fish, and had been fishing in Chinese territorial waters.

"If I didn't sign, they would have beaten me and detained me for a very long time," Loc said.

"This is a very serious and perverse action," said Nguyen Viet Thang, chairman of the Vietnam Fishery Association.

Thang said that after a previous incident in June, when Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs requested the return of fishing boats confiscated by China, Beijing promised to investigate, but never provided answers.

Phu said this was the fourth time Chinese patrols had detained fishermen from Quang Ngai in the South China Sea this year.

Tensions over sovereignty in the South China Sea have risen this year after regional nations submitted maritime territorial claims to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. At a workshop on regional maritime territorial disputes last month in Hanoi, experts said the disputes were likely to drag on for decades.

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