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China Urges Vietnam to Stop ‘Illegal Poaching’ Near Disputed Waters

Vietnamese fishermen paddle their boat in Vung Tau, 125 kilometers (77 miles) south east of Vietnam's southern city of Ho Chi Minh (file photo)
Vietnamese fishermen paddle their boat in Vung Tau, 125 kilometers (77 miles) south east of Vietnam's southern city of Ho Chi Minh (file photo)
Marianne Brown

A territorial dispute between Vietnam and China has escalated this week after Chinese forces arrested 21 fishermen. Vietnam says the fishermen detained near disputed waters in the South China Sea are being held for ransom. Beijing has urged its neighbor to stop what it calls “illegal poaching” in the area.

Less than 24 hours after the Vietnamese government urged China to release 21 fishermen arrested near the disputed Paracel Islands, Beijing said the group is being held for territorial violations.

At a news briefing in the Chinese capital, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hong Lei asked Hanoi to stop fishermen from entering the area again.

Hong Lei said recently more than 100 Vietnamese ships had entered waters around the Paracel Islands, an area controlled by China but claimed by Vietnam.

Hong Lei says on March 4, the fishermen were detained in the area. He says authorities acted in accordance with the law and urged Vietnam to better educate and manage fishermen so they would stop their illegal poaching in China.

The comments came a day after Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement demanding the release of the fishermen. whom they claimed were being held for a ransom of $11,000.
The Vietnamese government has advised families not to pay and are pressing Beijing for their release.

The incident has put a lot of pressure on local people, says fisherman Le Van Loc from Quang Ngai province.  He was detained by the Chinese while he was sailing near the islands in 2010.

Loc says, as a Vietnamese citizen, he is angry because the islands belong to Vietnam. He says families are told not to pay the ransom while the government demands the release of those detained. This had made life difficult for families.

The incident is the latest in a long-running dispute about territory in the South China Sea. Last year, both sides signed a series of maritime agreements aimed at resolving tensions.  However, Vietnam has continued to protest Chinese activity on or near the islands.

Earlier this month, Vietnam sent six Buddhist monks to re-establish abandoned temples on another series of islands claimed by both countries in the South China Sea.

An editorial in China's official Global Times newspaper says on Wednesday the move to send monks there was a "religious guise" to "permanently claim sovereignty" over the islands.

Vietnamese government spokesman Nghi denied the claims.

He says the plan was a normal and civilian activity.

Starting next month, the monks are to refurbish the temples and hold rituals there for at least six months. Vietnam abandoned the temples in 1975.  It recently renovated them as part of wider efforts to re-establish its claims to the Spratlys.

The Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also claim portions of the more than 100-island chain. Beijing insists the entire 3.5 million-square-kilometer South China Sea is part of its territory. It has become increasingly assertive about its maritime claims in recent months, regularly interfering with foreign fishing boats and oil exploration vessels.

Fisherman Loc says he will continue fishing near the Paracel islands in the future.  However,  while China is strengthening its patrols, he will stay away.

He says he still sees many boats heading to the islands, because they are near Vietnam’s coastline.

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by: Swift
April 17, 2012 12:31 AM
French colonized Vietnam (1802-1945), Spratly Islands on behalf of its then-colony Vietnam, They built the weather station there. Then, French gave back Spartly and Paracels islands to South Vietnam . 1974, China military attacked South Vietnamese navy, invaded the islands , they killed and captured American adviser and small group south Vietnamese personnel working in Spartly islands.

by: Jonathan Huang
March 29, 2012 3:51 PM
All great countries grew from blood and bones. China want to lead the world then cant avoid a glory war. Like US in the WWII.
But..... it is not the time yet, everyone calm down and wait with patient. maybe 30 years may be 50 years.

by: William
March 29, 2012 10:42 AM
It seems china is trying to claim most of asia and this kind of thinking is going to lead to a showdown in the near future, Don't trust the dragon cause it is really a snake.

by: China wouldn't risk a large scale war!
March 29, 2012 10:21 AM
A Large scale war would be the end of China & the Chinese leadership is not stupid enough to risk it.China is bent on provoking & waging small scale war against its weaker neighbours & slowly swallowing up these disputed lands & seas without alarming the whole civilised world.The UN should have a say in this matter rather than let itself be manipulated by China

by: michael qian
March 29, 2012 7:52 AM
The territory of mordern countyries are results of wars.It used to be,and will be.If distance is a problem,then hawaii shouldnot belong to USA.Since each country around south china sea believe they own the islands,let the war determine their destiny.

by: eyedrd
March 24, 2012 9:56 PM
Why is the detention of Vietnamese fishermen by Chinese Navy considered an act of piracy?
http://www.eyedrd.org/2012/03/why-is-the-detention-of-vietnamese-fishermen-by-chinese-navy-considered-an-act-of-piracy.html

by: Observer
March 23, 2012 5:31 PM
China is on the way to become a powerful nation. Thus, she should behave in accordance with international laws in order to gain trust and allies amongst her neighbors, which will even make them stronger. Instead, she stole lands, and harassed neighbors for minor things like a petty thieve and a bully! China should return the islands to Vietnam.

by: Southern Chinese are Vietnamese descendants
March 23, 2012 11:49 AM
Southern China used to belong to Nan Yue which was the ancient kingdom of the Vietnamese. The people of Canton,Yunnan & Guanxi are actually the descendants of the Vietnamese ( Baiyue: Hundred Viet Tribes). How could China claim the whole South China Sea based on some Han maps when the whole area used to belong to the Nan Yue people (Viet people of the South) who ruled over the entire area for many thousands of years?

by: Charlie
March 23, 2012 11:35 AM
China invaded & seized the Paracel islands from South Vietnam by force in 1974 & that incident was condemned internationally.China's claim of most of the South China Sea including the Paracels based on some old,unknown & probably fabricated maps,is totally absurd,illogically & is clearly illegal.China should learn to respect international laws & stop murdering Vietnamese fishermen who go about doing their work in their own waters.The UN should enforce UNCLOS

by: jose
March 23, 2012 10:30 AM
Hey you vietnam you no takey any mo a fishes dey is fo china only so you listen to us an put em backy in da watey.
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