|The Chinese attacks damaged boats and injured fishermen. — Photo tienphong.vn
DA NANG (VNS) — The chairmen of the Hoang Sa Islands district and the central city of Da Nang's Fishery Association have described the Chinese attacks on Vietnamese trawlers as "muscled aggression".
On Monday, Chinese ship coded 11209 rammed and sank Vietnamese trawler DNa 90152 from Da Nang City.
The 10 crewmen were left floundering in the water and had to be rescued by other Vietnamese trawlers.
Chairman of the Hoang Sa district, Vo Cong Chanh, strongly condemned the aggressive attacks by the Chinese vessel. The district comes under the control of the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang.
Chanh said the actions threatened lives and blocked the traditional occupation of Vietnamese fishermen in Viet Nam's sea.
"We ask China to stop violations of Viet Nam's sovereignty," he said.
The chairman also requested all fishermen in the city and along the whole Vietnamese coast to keep fishing in Viet Nam's waters and to join in the protection of the country's sea and islands.
Chairman of the city's fishery association, Tran Van Linh, also spoke out about the sinking.
He said it happened near where China had illegally placed the Haiyang Shiyou-981 drilling rig in Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.
"The Fishery Association denounces the attack as an extremely brutal, inhuman and aggressive action," Linh said in a report yesterday.
"The action of the Chinese vessel, which was disguised as a fishing boat, was an intentional act to slaughter the fishermen.
"We ask China to withdraw the Haiyang Shiyou-981 oil drilling rig from Viet Nam's waters," he said.
The association added that the Chinese attack meant the loss of a VND5 billion (US$235,000) Vietnamese fishing boat.
The association has proposed that relevant Vietnamese agencies press for compensation from China.
The present troubles began on May 7. Many Vietnamese fishing boats have since been attacked by Chinese ships while operating in their traditional fishing grounds in the Hoang Sa archipelago.
The attacks damaged boats and injured fishermen.
China yesterday deployed four fighter jets around the new position of its drilling rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 which is still in Vietnamese waters.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Fishery Surveillance Department said that China maintained about 120 ships, including 36 coast guard vessels, 13 tugs, 14 cargo ships and seven military ships at the site during the day.
It said that on May 27, China moved the rig to 15 degrees 33 minutes 22 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 34 minutes 36 seconds east longitude.
The ministry said no further movement was observed yesterday, adding that the new site was still completely within Viet Nam's continental shelf.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese law-enforcement vessels yesterday maintained their presence about 10-12 nautical miles from the Chinese rig.
They continued to request its withdrawal from Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.
Their activities were obstructed by Chinese ships, which operated in groups to prevent Viet Nam law-enforcement vessels from approaching.
In addition, Chinese fishing ships, also in groups, encircled and threatened Vietnamese fishing boats while they were fishing about 25-30 nautical miles from the illegal rig.
The same day, the Viet Nam Coast Guard command confirmed that Vietnamese law-enforcement vessels continued to try to get close to the rig to demand China withdraw its rig and ships from Viet Nam's waters.
The United States Department of State has blamed China for "provocative actions and tensions in the East Sea".
This was stated by Jen Psaki, spokeswoman for the department, at a press conference in Washington on Tuesday.
Commenting on the Vietnamese fishing boat that sank after being rammed by a Chinese vessel, Psaki said the US did not have independent information on the issue, but was seeking to confirm details.
She said the US was concerned about "dangerous conduct and threats" by Chinese vessels operating in the East Sea and called on all parties to exercise restraint to lower tensions.
On Tuesday, the Voice of Vietnam (VOV) said leading experts believed legal action against China's illegal move was a practical option for Viet Nam.
According to Dr. Tran Cong Truc, former head of the Government Border Committee, a 1958 note to China from late Prime Minister Pham Van Dong did not say that Viet Nam recognised China's sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos.
"The 1954 Geneva Accords recognised the Republic of Viet Nam and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam as two political entities, which were equal in international relations and territorial sovereignty," Truc said.
"Geographically, Hoang Sa and Truong Sa were on the southern side of parallel 17, so they were controlled by the Republic of Viet Nam, which perpetuated Viet Nam's continuous, peaceful and real sovereignty over these archipelagos," he added.
Nguyen Ba Dien, director of the Centre for the Sea and International Marine Law under the Ha Noi-based National University, said Viet Nam must be prepared for a tough legal struggle and possess ample evidence and persuasive arguments.
Viet Nam has no choice but to use legal actions to settle the issue, Dien told VOV online.
Lawyer Truong Trong Nghia, vice-president of the Viet Nam Bar Association, echoed Dien's view, saying China's claim over Hoang Sa was groundless and that legal tools must be used.
In his opinion, this legal struggle will certainly last a long time because it follows complex international principles and requires great expertise, both domestically and internationally. To ensure the success, it needs to garner additional international support.
Former French General Jean-Vincent Brisset and experts from Harvard University and University of Massachusetts-Boston suggested the best way to deal with China's violations was for Viet Nam to take China to the international arbitration court.
Chairman of the Italian Senate's Foreign Policy Commission, Pier Ferdinando Casini, said yesterday Rome was deeply concerned at China's actions in the East Sea.
Casini was speaking at a conference on international maritime law held by Italian's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Italian Parliament and the Italian Centre for International Studies.
He said the East Sea issue should be negotiated through peaceful dialogue and measures that in conformity with international law. — VNS