The Vietnam government is claiming that a Chinese vessel has attacked and sunk a Vietnamese fishing boat, raising tensions over a territorial dispute between the two governments.
“It sank,” ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said, speaking of the fishing boat. “It was rammed by a Chinese boat.”
All 10 fishermen on board DNa 90152 were rescued by other Vietnamese vessels in the area. According to the Vietnam government, the incident occurred at around 4:00 pm on Monday, May 25th about 17 nautical miles (19.5 miles) away from a Chinese oil rig.
The placement of the rig, which is located near Paracel Islands, is highly controversial. China claims that the oil rig has a right to be there and is in its own territory, while the Vietnam government thinks it is infringing on Vietnamese territory. Coast guard vessels from both countries have been squaring off this month, with the boats using water cannons and reportedly ramming each other.
The issue ultimately goes back to a map made in 1947, which shows that China actually has control over land and water that Vietnam claims to own. China is trying to rectify the map, though that would cause some problems. The Paracel Islands are both claimed by China and Vietnam, and it looks like neither country wants to back down.
While hopefully the dispute over the territorial boundaries will not spark a war or any more violence, it is currently all up in the air. Vietnam may respond violently to the sinking of one of its fishing boats, although the move seems unlikely. Either way, the violent move made by the Chinese vessel will likely have consequences, and we will keep you up to date on whatever happens next.