HA NOI — Viet Nam asked China to immediately and unconditionally set free the 21 Vietnamese fishermen and two fishing vessels seized on March 3, said Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi yesterday.
"Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago belongs to Viet Nam. The seizure of Vietnamese fishermen working in the waters around the archipelago has seriously violated Viet Nam's sovereignty, rights and jurisdiction," Nghi said in his response to media questions about the issue.
"Viet Nam resolutely objects to this action from China," he said, adding that China should cease all similar actions in the future.
A representative from the Vietnamese Foreign Affairs Ministry had met with the Chinese embassy to give them a diplomatic note outlining Viet Nam's position, Nghi said.
He also added that Viet Nam would continue its fight to resolve the matter and protect the legitimate rights of local fishermen.
The seizure occurred while two fishing vessels coded QNg66101TS and QNg66074TS from central Quang Ngai Province's Ly Son District were working around the Hoang Sa Archipelago on March 3.
According to Le Thi Phu, the wife of one ship's captain, her husband called home and said the 21 fishermen and two vessels were being kept in Phu Lam Island of the Hoang Sa Archipelago. The Chinese side had ordered each ship to pay 70,000 Renminbi (US$11,000) before being released. — VNS