WASHINGTON DC —
A Vietnamese fishing association is demanding the release of a ship and crew taken into custody by Chinese authorities in the South China Sea last week.
According to the Foreign Ministry in Beijing, six Vietnamese fishermen were detained July 3 off China's Hainan Island.
But the deputy head of Vietnam's Fisheries Association, Vo Van Trac, said in an interview with VOA's Vietnamese service the arrests took place to the southeast, in waters near the Paracel Islands.
"In reality, the fishing boat was operating within Vietnam’s waters. Fishermen who witnessed the capture and the local unit which oversees fishing ships have confirmed that the incident took place within Vietnam’s sovereignty. Fishermen and the Quang Ngai Province Fisheries Society have reported that it was the fact. They have sent documents over to us," said Trac.
State media reports say Hanoi has demanded that Beijing reveal the exact location where the incident took place.
Luong Thanh Quang, a senior official with the Consular Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Sunday the department representatives met with their counterparts at the Chinese embassy in Hanoi to ask for that information.
On Saturday, the Vietnamese Foreign Affairs Ministry also asked its embassy in Beijing to work with Chinese agencies to verify the information and take necessary measures to protect the fishermen.
Vietnam and China have been involved in a two-month dispute over a Chinese oil rig that Hanoi says is in its territorial waters near the Paracel Islands. Beijing says the rig is within its territory.
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.