illustrative image. Fishing vessels of Việt Nam operate on East Sea. VNA/VNS Photo
WASHINGTON — The sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat by the Chinese Coast Guard has been criticised by a number of senior American politicians.
US Senator Jim Risch, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with Senators Bob Menendez, Cory Gardner and Ed Markey, on Saturday issued a statement over the incident in Việt Nam’s Hoàng Sa (Paracel) archipelago waters in the East Sea.
They described the sinking of the boat, and China’s other activities on illegally reclaimed features in the East Sea, as ‘deeply concerning’ saying the actions undermine regional stability at a time when the international community should be coming together to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
They condemned China’s actions as causing division and tension, and called on the US to work to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific and to promote peaceful activities in the East Sea
Earlier on Thursday, the US Department of Defence also issued a statement expressing its deep concern over the incident.
"China’s behaviour stands in contrast to the US's vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, in which all nations, large and small, are secure in their sovereignty, free from coercion, and able to pursue economic growth consistent with accepted international rules and norms," according to the statement.
The US will continue to support efforts to ensure freedom of navigation and economic opportunity throughout the entire Indo-Pacific, it said.
“The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the importance of the rules-based international order, as it sets the conditions that enable us to address this shared threat in a way that is transparent, focused, and effective”, it added.
The US called on all parties to refrain from actions that would destabilise the region, distract from the global response to the pandemic, or risk needlessly contributing to loss of life and property.
The Vietnamese vessel, number QNg 90617 TS, with eight fishermen on board, was hit and sank when near Hoàng Sa's Phú Lâm island on April 2. — VNS