HA NOI (VNS) — Thirteen Vietnamese fishermen detained by China several days ago have been set free, according to the Vietnamese Embassy in China.
"They are on their way home on a fishing boat from Quang Binh coded QB93256 TS," Luong Thanh Quang, assistant to the chief of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' General Consulate Department, told reporters yesterday.
The fishermen consist of seven crew members from the QB 93256 TS boat, which was taken by the Chinese side on June 26, and six from the QNg 94912 TS from Quang Ngai, which was taken on July 3.
The Chinese side confiscated the Quang Ngai boat and fishing equipment from the two vessels, the official said, adding that Vietnamese agencies in China are continuing to work with the Chinese side to finalise the situtation.
Preparations are being made to ensure the safety of fishermen in the East Sea as tropical strom Rammasun approaches.
Their safety is also threatened by continued harassment by Chinese vessels protecting the placement of an oil rig they have illegally set up near the Paracel Islands in Viet Nam's waters.
China yesterday maintained 70 to 75 vessels of various kinds around the rig, the Haiyang Shiyou-981. This is about 30 less than in previous days.
According to the Viet Nam Fisheries Surveillance Department, yesterday the vessels, including warships, lined up, sped towards Vietnamese ships as close as 100-300m, and blasted sirens to prevent them from accessing the rig.
At one fishing ground about 34 to 39 nautical miles from the oil platform, a Chinese coast guard ship coded 31101 followed and hindered Vietnamese fishing ships.
Vietnamese fisheries surveillance and coast guard forces avoided the harassment and ensured the safety of the fishing vessels. They also persistently demanded that China withdraw its oil rig from Viet Nam's waters.
In early May, China dispatched the rig and a large fleet of armed vessels, military ships and aircraft to Viet Nam's waters and positioned the rig 80 miles inside Viet Nam's continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.
Despite protests, China expanded its scale of operations and moved the rig to 15 degrees 33 minutes 36 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 34 minutes 11 seconds east longitude, 60 nautical miles inside Viet Nam's waters. — VNS