Demand made by Vietnam for China to release nine fishermen
(7 October 2010)
Following the arrest of 9 Vietnamese fisherman by China off the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on September 11 2010, Vietnam yesterday requested their release. Previous discussions have failed in the release of the fishermen, with China arguing that a fine must be paid for illegal fishing practices. China claims the fishermen were using explosives. Vietnam argues they were within their territorial waters and had not engaged in illegal fishing practices.
The Paracel Islands, a chain of islands and atolls, have a long history of dispute, being claimed by both China and Vietnam. The Paracels are occupied by the Chinese military, and were captured from Vietnam in 1974. China claims sovereign rights to the entirety of the South China Sea, including the Paracel Islands, as well as the Spratly Islands which are also subject to claims from Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines. The South China Sea is a major route for shipping, and contains largely unexploited oil and natural gas fields, as well as fishing grounds.
Source: ‘The South China Sea’s disputed maritime borders’, Reuters, 6 October 2010; ‘Vietnam demands China release 9 fishermen’, Associated Press, 6 October 2010; ‘Vietnam demands release of fishermen held in China’, Mark Tran, The Guardian, 6 October 2010