Vietnam detains intruding Chinese refueling vessel

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Vietnam’s coast guard seized a Chinese vessel in the South China Sea on April 2, Vietnamese state media said.

An April 4 report by Thanh Nien News said the crew of the vessel “admitted that they had entered deep [into] Vietnamese waters to refuel several other Chinese boats which were fishing illegally there.”

Woody Island, where China deployed surface-to-air missile launchers in February. /AFP/Getty Images
Woody Island, where China deployed surface-to-air missile launchers in February.  /AFP/Getty Images

The captain of the Chinese ship and two sailors were detained. The vessel carried more than 100,000 liters of diesel oil.

China has overlapping claims with Vietnam and other southeast Asian countries to waters in the South China Sea, a major trade route which is also thought to have vast oil and gas reserves. The area is also rich in fish.

Vietnamese fishermen say there is a long history of China harassing and attacking them while at sea. In May last year, Chinese and Vietnamese ships collided as Beijing tried to set up an oil rig in the South China Sea. Vietnam released footage of a Chinese ship ramming and sinking a Vietnamese fishing boat.

In February, China deployed surface-to-air missile launchers on Woody Island, part of the Parcels chain that is also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

China also has overlapping claims with Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Japan to other islands in the region.

The United States has vowed to fly and sail through the area to oppose China’s military expansion.