China seizes Vietnamese fishing boat in territorial conflict
May 7, 2010, 4:42 GMT
Hanoi - Chinese fishing patrols have seized another Vietnamese fishing boat in the South China Sea and are demanding fines to release its 12 crew members, Vietnamese media reported Friday.
The fishing boat, seized Tuesday, was at least the 36th vessel detained by Chinese patrols since the beginning of 2009 in an escalating conflict over maritime territory in the South China Sea.
Chinese authorities allowed the fishermen to phone their relatives on Thursday, the news website VietnamNet reported. They are being held on Woody Island in the Paracel archipelago, which is occupied by China but claimed by Vietnam.
Also Thursday, the Vietnamese government stated it would not honor a Chinese fishing ban over parts of the South China Sea.
Government spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga called the Chinese fishing ban, effective from May 16 to August 1, 'illegitimate,' the official Vietnam News reported.
Vietnam and China have overlapping sovereignty claims over large portions of the South China Sea, particularly the Paracel and Spratly Islands.
The Paracel Islands belonged to the former South Vietnam until 1974, when they were seized by Chinese forces following a short naval battle.