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Chinese Fishing Vessel Sinks Vietnamese Boat Near Disputed Oilrig

Late yesterday afternoon, a Chinese fishing boat rammed and sank a Vietnamese ship in the waters around the controversial oilrig that has stoked tensions between the two countries over the past few weeks.

According to Tuoi Tre, the incident occurred at 4pm Monday afternoon when “about 40 Chinese fishing boats surrounded a group of Vietnamese fishing ships in an area about 17 nautical miles south-southwest from the location where China’s oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 has been placed illegally since May 1.”

The Vietnamese ship had 10 fishermen on board who were quickly rescued by other Vietnamese fishing boats operating nearby.

The Independent quoted Tran Van Linh, president of Da Nang's Fisheries Association who accused the Chinese of attempted murder:

“I call this an act of attempted murder because the Chinese sank a Vietnamese fishing boat and then ran away,” Linh said.  “We vehemently protest this perverse, brutal and inhumane action by Chinese side.”

According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Chinese rig, located at 15°29’58’’ North latitude and 111°12’06’’ East longitude in the “East Vietnam Sea,” lies well within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

Since the oilrig entered Vietnamese waters on May 1, China has deployed a flotilla of civilian and military vessels to the area. The last 3 weeks have seen repeated incidents of Chinese ships ramming and using water cannons against Vietnamese boats.

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