Beijing demands explanation from Hanoi
Vietnamese boats have chased and fired upon two Chinese fishing vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin, a stretch of water bordered by the two neighboring countries, RFA's Mandarin and Cantonese services report.
The Chinese foreign ministry said it had asked Vietnam to investigate and explain the media reports of the incident on Sept. 23, in which two armed Vietnamese craft chased and opened fire on two fishing boats from Beihai City, in the southern region of Guangxi. One of the fishing boats did not return to port, and was still missing after the incident.
"The Chinese side has asked the Vietnamese side to cooperate in searching for one missing boat, explain the incident, and in the meantime earnestly take measures to prevent similar incidents from recurring, to maintain the normal fishing order in the Beibu Gulf," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan said at a regular news briefing.
"Chasing and firing on the fishing boats, which are engaged in normal fishing operations, is a very serious incident," Kong said. "The Chinese side takes serious account of this."
He said two Chinese administration vessels had immediately hurried to the site of the incident, and the Vietnamese armed vessels had left the area. "One of the two Chinese fishing boats has returned but the other one is missing," Kong said. "The Chinese administration vessels are still searching for it and we will continue to pay attention to this issue."
China's foreign ministry has expressed "solemn representations" to the Vietnamese embassy in Beijing, and the Chinese embassy in Hanoi handed a similar message to the Vietnamese foreign ministry.
Several similar incidents have taken place in recent years, according to Chinese media reports, prompting Beijing to express its dissatisfaction to Vietnam.