The captain of a Vietnamese fishing boat that sank Monday after allegedly being rammed by Chinese vessels vowed to resume fishing in the South China Sea.
Dang Van Nhan wants “to set examples for future generations” of fishermen, he told VOA’s Vietnamese Service shortly after being brought to shore.
The incident occurred near China’s controversial oil rig in disputed waters claimed by Hanoi and Beijing. Vietnamese and Chinese boats have repeatedly clashed since May 1, when China moved the oil rig to an area within what Hanoi considers its exclusive economic zone.
Nhan said two fishermen sustained light injuries in the attack, but they have recovered.
China's state-run Xinhua news agency said the Vietnamese boat "capsized after harassing and colliding with a Chinese fishing boat."
Nhan disagreed with that account.
“China is very aggressive,” the captain said, adding that three boats “attacked us with the support of others. They are steel vessels. Our wooden boat is small. How could we ram into them? It is our territory, but Chinese boats came attacking us, trying to kill us.”
Nhan said he was not afraid of China and planned to return to sea as soon as possible.
“We hope the authorities would help us restore the vessel at the earliest so that we can go off-shore for fishing and for protecting Vietnam’s sovereignty and islands,” he said. “We do that to set examples for future generations.”
Legal action expected
A spokesman for Vietnam's national legislature announced earlier this week that Hanoi was taking its final steps toward filing an international lawsuit against China for towing the oil rig into Vietnamese waters and attacking Vietnamese vessels.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung threatened legal action last week during a visit to the Philippines, which has a similar territorial dispute with China.
Earlier this year, Manila challenged the legality of China's maritime claims to an international tribunal in The Hague. Beijing was angered by the move and has refused to participate in the case.
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese Service.