Vietnam asks China to return seized fishing boats

Other News Materials 16 December 2009 07:20 (UTC +04:00)

Vietnam has asked China to stop detaining its fishermen and to return fishing boats it seized in the South China Sea in recent months, the Communist Party newspaper Nhan Dan reported Wednesday, dpa reported.

   "Vietnam is concerned about China's repeated seizures of Vietnamese fishing boats and fishermen while they are operating normally in Vietnamese sovereign waters," the paper quoted Vietnamese government spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga as saying.

   China and Vietnam both claim the Paracels and the neighboring Spratly Islands, and the two countries have conflicting maritime territorial claims.

   Nga said Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday handed a diplomatic note to the Chinese Embassy, demanding China return boats, equipment and property belonging to the Vietnamese fishermen and take measures to prevent any similar recurrence.

   Chinese naval patrols seized three Vietnamese fishing boats near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on December 7 and 8 and held their 43 crew members for three days. They released the fishermen in one of the boats, but kept the other two.

   China seized two other Vietnamese fishing boats in June. In August, China detained several trawlers after they took shelter from an approaching storm in the Paracels.

   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.