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Japan Donates 2 More Patrol Boats to Vietnam Amid S. China Sea Tensions

FILE - Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang listens to questions during an interview, Sept. 28, 2015, in New York. Sang has said that China’s island-building in the disputed South China Sea violates international law and endangers maritime security.

Japan has delivered to Vietnam another two ships that will be refurbished into patrol boats in disputed waters of the South China Sea.

The ships, which arrived Tuesday in the port city of Da Nang, are the second delivery of a 2014 deal for Tokyo to provide Vietnam with six used fishing vessels that will be converted into patrol ships for Vietnam's coast guard and fisheries ministry.

Japan has also agreed to provide equipment and technical advice. In September, the two sides signed a separate deal for Tokyo to provide even more vessels in the future.

The Japanese ships follow a U.S. pledge to provide at least five refurbished fast patrol ships to improve Vietnam's Coast Guard.

Nguyen Do, captain of a Vietnamese fishing vessel that works in disputed waters, told VOA Tuesday the international aid is desperately needed.

"Despite being frequently attacked and chased away by Chinese vessels, we keep fishing in these waters, we have no other choices," he said. "They robbed and damaged our assets, they chased us out of the area. Their vessels are well-equipped gunboats armed with weapons. These vessels belong to coast guard forces or fisheries resources surveillance, not civilian fishing boats."

Fishing boat captain Le Van Xinh said Hanoi needs to make good use of the new ships.

"If the Vietnamese government put into practice some policies to support and protect fishermen then we will be less worried while operating at sea. To be specific, if the law enforcement forces are around in our fishing field, that would help ease our worries when being harassed by foreign vessels, especially in the context of constant threats from China’s vessels, as what’s going on right now," he said.

Anti-China sentiments are still running high in Vietnam as Beijing seeks to strengthen its claim over virtually all of the South China Sea.

Last year, Beijing was sharply criticized by Hanoi when it placed an oil rig in disputed waters, leading to several small maritime confrontations and deadly rioting in mainland Vietnam.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled in Hanoi this week for a visit aimed at improving relations.

Vietnam is one of several countries with competing maritime claims with China.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.