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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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: GI JOE
March 23, 2012 9:10 AM
China would be called West Japan today if it wasn't for the united states, We gave our blood for China and helped defend against the Japanese onslaught, But Mao was a nut job dictator that murdered his own people and if we knew China was going to fall into communist hands we should have let japan have it, The United States has defended to many losers in the past.

by: Samurai
March 23, 2012 2:03 AM
China is again behaving as a gangster in the South Asia islands.
Its trick is always simple -- treat, dispute, and then invasion.
It claims that everything it wants belongs to China. Vietnam should not respond to Chinese threat by itself but should cooperate with other countries including USA and Japan.

by: ngo d,d,
March 23, 2012 12:42 AM
according to the sea MAP,,China was far away from this claimed,,.
and the reason to arrested those south vietnamese fisherman was totally unlawful,, and the remake d by

.Hong,,,YOUR Remarked ,,your concern were not found in this regard,,.

there was no need to Educated,,

they are already been Educated,,
according to vietnamese fishery,,and MARINE and Environment protection ed,, already took,.

by: KING
March 22, 2012 10:25 PM
VN is always doing that stupid thing. that is not so called " illegal poaching". It is an offense agaist China's law.

by: Ly Thuong Kiet
March 22, 2012 9:22 PM
While China cannot prove that the islands belong to them, they must not deploy military ships there. Dare they allow the dispute to be solved internationally by an international court? Surely they do not!!!

by: johnlone
March 22, 2012 8:01 PM
China must return Paracel islands to Vietnam which they invaded in 1974, China must also return Tibet to Tibetans which they invaded in 1954, Xinjiang does not belong to Han chinese, it is clearly belong to Ughurs.
Chinese have a lot lot to learn how to behavior like a civilized people and cannot claim what is not yours.


by: eric lim
March 22, 2012 6:05 PM
there are enough conflicts in our world,it should be resolve by frankiy negotations and sincere compromise amongst those parties involve.there is nothing insolvable if those parties involve are truly commited to compromise.hopely it would be solve by peaceful and win win situation.

by: eyedrd
March 22, 2012 5:21 PM
China is the one who used force to invade and occupy Hoang Sa, which has been belonged to VN for centuries.
Why are Vietnamese nationals attached so much to Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spartly) Islands?
Historical and Legal Documents of Vietnamese Sovereignty over Paracel Islands (Hoang Sa) centuries ago
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