Vietnam’s coast guard in a rare move has seized a Chinese vessel for allegedly intruding in its waters, state media reported on Monday.
The newspaper Thanh Nien said that the vessel has been towed to the northern port city of Hai Phong, and that the ship, its captain and two sailors, all Chinese, are under the supervision of Vietnamese authorities.
The vessel, disguised as a fishing boat, was carrying 100,000 liters of diesel oil and was intercepted by Vietnamese coast guard near Bach Long Vi island in the Gulf of Tonkin on Thursday, it said.
The captain told authorities the fuel was to be sold to Chinese fishing boats operating in the area, it said.
Hai Phong coast guard officails declined to comment on Monday.
The newspaper said that in the last two weeks of March the coast guard had chased 110 Chinese fishing boats out of Vietnamese waters.
Vietnam’s coast guard often warns and chases Chinese fishing boats out of its waters but rarely seizes them.Vietnamese fishermen complain they are harassed, attacked and have had their catches confiscated by Chinese authorities while they fishing in the South China Sea. Vietnam is locked in a territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea, which is rich in resources and occupies one of the world busiest sea lanes.Vietnam, China and Taiwan have competing claims over the Paracel islands which are occupied by China, while the three along with the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei have claimed parts or all of the Spratly islands.
Chinese growing territorial assertiveness in the region including recent massive land reclamation of reefs and atolls in the Spratlys and its increased military actions in the two island chains have raised concerns among neighbors and the United States.