Vietnam has called on China to set free 21 Vietnamese fishermen and their fishing boats seized early this month.
“Vietnam resolutely opposes this action from China, asking it to immediately and unconditionally release the fishermen and their boats,” foreign affairs ministry spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi told a press conference in Hanoi on March 21.
Nghi also demanded China “end its seizing of and preventing Vietnamese fishermen from [working in] Vietnam’s waters.”
The seizure of Vietnamese fishermen working in the waters around the archipelago has seriously violated Vietnam’s sovereignty, rights and jurisdiction, he said.
Twenty-one Vietnamese fishermen and their two boats were seized by China troops on March 3. They have been detained on Phu Lam in the archipelago.
At China’s request they communicated with their relatives at home last week, reports said. China ordered them to pay 70,000 yuan (US$11,000) per boat before being released.
Nghi said the ministry had summoned the Chinese embassy and gave them a diplomatic note outlining Vietnam’s position.
The fishermen’s relatives have been warned not to pay the ransom.