The US on Monday said it was “seriously concerned” about China’s reported sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel in the East Sea (South China Sea internationally).
In a statement, the US Department of State said this incident is the latest in a long line of Chinese actions in the East Sea amid the sweeping coronavirus pandemic.
It urged China to instead focus on supporting international efforts to fight the pandemic.
Regarding this incident, a representative of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs met with a representative of the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi and presented a protest diplomatic note asking the Chinese side to investigate, clarify and strictly handle the civil servants and Chinese coast guard vessel causing the incident, not to repeat similar actions, and adequately compensate the losses of the Vietnamese fishermen.
The United States condemns the PRC’s reported sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel on April 2. It is appalling that the PRC is exploiting the world’s focus on addressing this global pandemic to assert its unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea. pic.twitter.com/4HYU7AqtMF
— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) April 6, 2020
On April 3, Spokeswoman of the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry Lê Thị Thu Hằng quoted the country’s relevant agencies as reporting that a Vietnamese vessel with eight fishermen on board was fishing near Phú Lâm Island of Việt Nam’s Hoàng Sa (Paracel) archipelago on April 2 when a Chinese coast guard ship rammed and sank it.
She noted Vietnam has repeatedly affirmed it has sufficient legal grounds and historical evidence testifying to its sovereignty over the Hoàng Sa and Trường Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes in accordance with international law.
Such an act by the Chinese coast guard ship violates Việt Nam’s sovereignty over the Paracel Islands, caused damage and threatened the safety and legitimate interests of Vietnamese fishermen.
It also went against the common perception of the two countries’ leaders on the humane treatment of fishermen and the Vietnam-China agreement on the basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-related issues, and was in contrary to the spirit of the Declaration on Conduct of the Parties in the East Sea (DOC).
The move complicated the situation and was not conducive to bilateral relations as well as the maintenance of peace, stability and co-operation in the East Sea, according to the spokeswoman.