A Chinese coast guard vessel was filmed apparently ramming a Vietnamese fishing boat in video posted on Facebook on October 12 by the Tin Tuc Mong Cai 24/7 news agency.
The video, shot from the Vietnamese boat, showed Chinese coast guard boat 37102 — and what appears to be another Chinese boat — chasing the fishermen. There was panic on the Vietnamese vessel as it appeared to flee from the pursuing Chinese ship.
A few minutes later, the video apparently shows the Chinese ramming the rear of the Vietnamese ship.
The violent contact caused chaos on the fishing vessel, and the captain and crew rushed to stabilize the ship. The video, which could not be independently verified by AEC News Today, did not show any injuries or significant damage to the Vietnamese ship.
Since it was posted some three weeks ago, the 4:30 minute video has been viewed more than 35,000 times. Many Facebook users, notably writing in Vietnamese, posted negative and even anti-Chinese comments about the alleged aggression.
Although the time and location of the clash are unknown, the incident comes at a time of heightened maritime tension between China and its Asean neighbours.
As reported by East Asia Forum (EAF) on October 27, “Vietnam seems to be locked in a coast guard modernisation race with China, a clear reaction to China’s behaviour in the South China Sea.”
The EAF report said that Asean maritime powers “are investing significant resources in modernising their respective coast guards. These fleets, commonly called ‘white hulls’, play a strategic role in asserting sovereignty and enforcing national jurisdiction.”
Regional foreign ministers at the Asean-China Post Ministerial Conference, held this summer in Singapore, announced that the Asean states and China had agreed on a draft document that will form the foundation of negotiations for a South China Sea code of conduct (COC). Singapore’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vivian Balakrishnan, described it as “yet another milestone in the COC process”.
He added, however, that competing territorial claims in the South China Sea have not been resolved, and that the proposed COC “was never meant to resolve territorial disputes”.
Research published in 2016, meanwhile, found that “increasingly assertive action by China’s coast guard ships in the South China Sea risks destabilising the region.”
“We’re seeing bullying, harassment and ramming of vessels from countries whose coast guard and fishing vessels are much smaller, often to assert sovereignty throughout the South China Sea”, said Bonnie Glaser, a regional security expert, at the time.
China claims much of the South China Sea, which carries the bulk of Asean’s trade. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan also have claims.
In mid-2014, Vietnam released footage of a Chinese ship that clashed with and sank a small Vietnamese fishing boat in South China Sea.
|Chinese vessel attacked and immersed a Vietnamese fishing boat in 2014. Cherry Nguyen|
Vietnam and China have long had a bitter dispute over the South China Sea since Chinese navy ships sunk two Vietnamese Navy transport ships and killed 64 Vietnamese soldiers attempting to claim sovereignty of Johnson South Reef in the Spratly Islands chain in 1988.
Tension intensified after China established an oil-drilling rig in the area in May 2014.
The incident in question occurred 7 nautical miles from where the Chinese oil rig, HD-981, was placed — an area near the Paracel Islands, which are controlled by China but also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.
Nguyen Quang Dam, the head of Vietnam’s coastguard, told Reuters at the time: “A Vietnamese boat from the central city of Da Nang was deliberately encircled by 40 fishing vessels from China before it was attacked by a Chinese ship.”
China’s official Xinhua news agency, citing a government source, said the vessel capsized after “harassing and colliding with” a Chinese fishing boat.
Ten fishermen had to be rescued by a Vietnamese fishing boat that was nearby.
Feature video Tin tức Móng Cái 24/7
- How Vietnam Benefits From US Strategy in the South China Sea (The Diplomat)
- Taiwan to hold live-fire drill in Spratly Islands likely to anger Vietnam (South China Morning Post)
- Vietnam edges toward China’s model of centralized rule (Nikkei Asian Review)
- Fishing militia to spearhead Vietnam’s response to China in South China Sea (video) (AEC News Today)
She commenced as an intern at AEC News Today and was appointed as a junior writer/ trainee journalist on April 2, 2018