After China attempted to put fishing limits on the disputed South China Sea, Vietnam answered with a message to its people: just keep fishing, legally.
The Vietnamese government told provincial governments near the sea’s coast to “intensify” the supervision of local fishermen. A message from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said fishers should be informed of China’s ban. However, it also said to “encourage fishers to stick to normal production within the limits of Vietnam’s territorial waters.”
Vietnam rejected China’s order of a seasonal ban from May 1 to August 16 in the South China Sea.
A report on VienamNet, the official news site of the Ministry of Information and Communications, released the new guidance to officials of provinces and cities. The ministry provided a telephone hotline for people to report “unexpected incidents” to the Department of Fisheries Control after China’s announcement.
In early April, Vietnam accused China of sinking a boat carrying Vietnamese fishers. China rescued the fishers and blamed them for the sinking. Later, China said the fishermen admitted wrongdoing.
Also last month, China reportedly sent a ship into disputed waters, possibly to explore for oil. Vietnam protested the operation.
The Philippines, which has expressed conflicting positions toward Chinese action in the sea, gave rare support to Vietnam after the sinking.
The fishing dispute has added to tensions existing between several nations over territory in the South China Sea.
The incidents led the United States to criticize China. American officials said China was using the crisis of COVID-19 as a distraction from its aggressive acts in the South China Sea. The U.S called the behavior “coercive and unlawful.” It also deployed a U.S. war ship to the area.
Vice Admiral Bill Merz, commander of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet said the U.S. would “continue to fly and sail freely,” as permitted by international law.
Several nations in the area dispute legal control of large areas of the South China Sea. The waters are rich with fish and may hold substantial mineral resources.
The worldwide spread of COVID-19 has hurt Vietnam’s fishing industry, including a decrease in its seafood trade with China.
Nguyen Viet Thang is chairperson of the Vietnam Association of Fisheries. He said he asked the government to defend local fishermen and to oppose China’s summer fishing ban. He said fishermen of Vietnam have the right to fish in waters under its control.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs denounced the fishing ban, saying Vietnam rejects China’s unilateral decision.”
China says Vietnam does not have the right to such protest.
I’m Mario Ritter, Jr.
Mario Ritter Jr. adapted this VOANEWS story for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
encourage –v. to make an activity more likely to happen, to ease barriers
coercive –adj. using force or threats to get a desired result
unilateral –adj. involving only one group or country, one-sided in nature