WASHINGTON — Vietnam has released a video showing a Chinese vessel sinking a Vietnamese fishing boat last week in the South China Sea.
The Chinese ship in the video, played on National Television (VTV) Thursday, first separates two smaller Vietnamese fishing boats and then hits one of them, causing it to capsize and sink near the site of a controversial oil rig that China has located in disputed waters.
Vietnam’s state-owned TV channel calls the video “irrefutable evidence of China’s inhumane actions toward Vietnamese fishermen.” The captain of the lost fishing boat, Dang Van Nhan, told VOA’s Vietnamese service last week that the Chinese vessels “came attacking us, trying to kill us.”
Addressing the video Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, said the Vietnamese boats were the aggressors.
“In the relevant seas, China’s ships were on the defensive and Vietnam’s ships were on the offence,” said Hong. “China’s ships were only about 17 nautical miles from China’s Zhongjian Island while Vietnam’s ships sailed a long way, almost 160 nautical miles, to reach the site. So which site initiated the clash at the site? Which side created tension at the site? This is very clear”.
But the deputy head of Hanoi’s National Border Committee, Tran Duy Hai, denied an allegation by Beijing that Vietnamese vessels have rammed Chinese ships 120 times since early May.
“It is very clear in video clips that Chinese ships intentionally hit and fired water cannons at Vietnamese boats, on which Chinese media have publicly reported. So China admitted its actions. Vietnam has not done such actions,” said Tran.
According to Vietnamese officials, Chinese ships have damaged 24 Vietnamese ships and injured 12 members of its fisheries surveillance force.
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.