News / Asia

    Fire-Gutted Vessel Highlights Vietnam - China Maritime Dispute

    Pham Quang Thanh's fishing boat was allegedly attacked by Chinese vessels in the disputed South China Sea, Ly Son island, March 27, 2013.
    Pham Quang Thanh's fishing boat was allegedly attacked by Chinese vessels in the disputed South China Sea, Ly Son island, March 27, 2013.
    Marianne Brown
    A long-running territorial dispute between Hanoi and Beijing has flared again after an incident this week in the South China Sea. A day after the Vietnamese government accused China of firing flares at a fishing boat near Chinese-controlled islands, Hanoi announced a plan to honor what it says are the islands’ original Vietnamese settlers.
     
    On Wednesday, local newspapers continued to carry images of the burned-out cabin of a Vietnamese fishing boat which that Hanoi says was damaged by a Chinese navy vessel firing warning flares.
     
    Authorities in Hanoi say the incident happened when the Vietnamese boat was returning from a fishing ground near the Paracel Islands. They say the flares fired by the Chinese made the boat catch fire.
     
    At a news conference on Tuesday in Beijing, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, Hong Lei, denied the Vietnamese vessels were damaged, but said the action was "necessary and legitimate."
     
    The incident occurred near the Paracel Islands, an archipelago roughly equidistant from Chinese and Vietnamese coastlines. The islands, known as Xisha in Chinese and Hoang Sa in Vietnam, have been under Chinese control ever since the two nations fought over them in 1974.
     
    The islands have long been a source of contention between the two countries. In recent years, China has imposed a seasonal fishing ban around the archipelago, which Vietnam has ignored. Hanoi has accused China of detaining hundreds of fishermen near the area and impounding their boats.
     
    A day after protesting the latest alleged attack on its fishermen, Hanoi announced an annual ceremony to commemorate what it says are the original Vietnamese settlers of the Paracels. The event will be held next month on Ly Son island, the home of many fishermen who cast their nets in the South China Sea.
     
    The state-run Viet Nam News Agency said this is the first time the event is to be held at the provincial level, with activities including lectures, art performances and boat races.
     
    Bui Thi Minh Hang, a well-known participant in anti-China protests, says Hanoi’s attention to the islands’ Vietnamese links marks a shift.
     
    "Over the years, the Vietnamese government has avoided recalling conflicts with China and the struggles have been forgotten," she said. "In the past few years, police have arrested those who have taken to the streets to show their support for Vietnamese fishermen."
     
    China is Vietnam’s biggest trading partner, and analysts say Vietnam has to strike a fine balance between diplomacy and anti-China sentiment at home.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Len Minetola from: New Jersey, USA
    March 30, 2013 7:16 AM
    I see some people think the USA should and would not get involved because of human rights violations in Vietnam. Is China any better in the treatment of their people? I agree that China should be stopped now and made to live with the International Law of The Sea before China owns the world. And why is the United States the authority on human rights?
    What right does the United States have to put pressure on Viet Nam to push for human rights in that country? Let’s look at a little history in the United States before we condemn the way other governments are handling their internal affairs.
    The United States Constitution was ratified in 1788, stating that all men were created equal. In 1789 George Washington was elected first president of the United States. It wasn’t until 76 years later, in 1865, that the 13th Amendment to that Constitution abolished slavery in the United States. That all men are created equal didn’t seem to apply to those held in slavery all those years. It didn’t really apply to women either because it took 131 years for women to get the right to vote.
    Let’s not forget the McCarthy era in American history when Americans were so afraid of the spread of communism that being labeled a communist by McCarthy’s committee ruined lives of innocent people. We condemn Viet Nam on how they treat dissenters of their system of government.
    As Late as 1965, there was still segregation in some schools in the south. That would be 177 years since the Constitution was ratified and 100 years after abolishing slavery.
    Can we forget a place called Kent state in 1967, where 4 people were shot by the National Guard. Nine people were wounded and another paralyzed in that affair. In 1970 a Presidential Commission on campus unrest called the shootings unjustified. We shot students while they were exercising a right guaranteed them in our Constitution.
    We still go through racial profiling, unequal pay for women, and many other things relating to the rights of our citizens and our country and it’s government is 223 years old. Viet Nam’s country is far older than ours but there government is only 36 years old and for much of that we held back their development because we lost a war there. So I repeat my question, what right do we have to pressure them about human rights.

    by: HenryTran from: USA
    March 29, 2013 2:36 AM
    I agree more than 100% with the comments from Quayle and SEATO. Thanks.

    by: quayle from: CA, USA
    March 28, 2013 2:03 AM
    These chinese are acting more and more like Nazi. They never want peace in the first place. They are nothing but barbarians and the huge and only threat to the civilization. They need to be removed from power by all means NOW or they will be claiming every square inch on the surface of this earth to themselves. This is no joke! It is happening now and it will continue to worsen until something or someone takes an appropriate and true measure to rid of these ongoing threats.

    by: SEATO
    March 27, 2013 5:17 PM
    China's rise is comparable to that of the Third Reich in 1930s.They have to be restrained before they start WW3. We can not keep turning blind eyes to their aggressions,and let them take over other countries's territories and claim them to be undisputable parts of China.By just comdemning China is a waste of time because they wouldn't listen to reasons because they think they are too powerful and risky to mess about with.By terrorising and intimidating your neighbours into giving up their sovereign territories are despicable and deplorable acts.Would America and Russia just sit back and let China take over the Senkaku and South China Sea and think that would be the end of the problem? Don't forget,after Poland,Hitler went on to attack their Russian allies.The Chinese have been dreaming of World domination and they are now slowly working towards that goal.We can see that from the continued development and deployment of their navy and airforce.So wake up and face the reality!

    by: Anonymous
    March 27, 2013 4:18 PM
    US has asked no gun fires in South China Sea to keep peace in the region. Now, China fired flairs at Viet fishing boats. Does US wait until China fires a DF21D missle at the sea before firmly reacting.?
    In Response

    by: Thuoc hay la thuoc dang from: Dallas, US
    March 28, 2013 2:03 PM
    Sorry pal! you are on your own since we can not support dictatorship countries who suppress freedom from their own people. Let me say it in different way, business relation is ok, but support and arm sell is No No No.
    In Response

    by: Sentinel
    March 27, 2013 11:46 PM
    US will be more willing to engage when Vietnam ends repeated and escalated human rights violations. Vietnam Communist corrupted regime wants to manipulate Vietnamese populace only for its own gain and consolidation of the status quo to protect its grip on power, ie, intermittently disperse and encourage anti-China demonstrations whenever it sees fit.

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