fbpx
The annual Global Impact Conference 2022 brings together visionary business leaders to revolutionize educational systems and inspire collaborative actionRead more APO Group announces content partnership with Pan-African broadcaster VoxAfricaRead more MainOne, an Equinix Company’s MDXi Appolonia Achieves Tier III Constructed Facility certification (TCCF), Now Most Certified Data Center in GhanaRead more United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) warns rising tide of hunger, insecurity, and underfunding worsening gender-based violence risksRead more The Royal Thai Embassy presents the cultures of Thailand at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Festival in KenyaRead more Climate change is the biggest global threat, young people in Africa and Europe tell European Investment Bank (EIB), Debating Africa and Debating EuropeRead more $2 million in prizes awarded at Conference of the Parties (COP27) to African youth-led businessesRead more Africa and Europe’s top business and public sector leaders gather to chart Africa’s economic rebirthRead more The Thai delegation’s active participation at the 145th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in KigaliRead more Canon shares winning image of its Redline Challenge competition 2022Read more

Beaten and robbed: Vietnamese fisherman recounts China attacks

show caption
Vietnamese fisherman Nguyen Van Loc says he has been attacked by Chinese coast guard vessels so many times, he has lost count./AFP
Print Friendly and PDF

Oct 05, 2022 - 12:33 PM

LY SON, VIETNAM — Vietnamese fisherman Nguyen Van Loc has been attacked by Chinese coast guard vessels so many times, he has lost count.

One summer day in 2020, while sailing through the Paracel Islands — resource-rich waters in the South China Sea claimed by both Hanoi and Beijing — his boat was rammed by a Chinese ship repeatedly until it capsized.

Thirteen of his crewmen were left clinging to a fishing basket in the water, desperately awaiting help.

Loc, 43, was beaten over and over, while his boat was stripped of their catch, tools and fishing gear.

Some years before that, two Chinese vessels with large machine guns — and crew armed with axes — slammed into Loc’s boat and followed them closely as they tried to make their way home.

Now swathes of the disputed sea – where he began fishing as a boy aged 15 — are no-go zones, while other parts are so overfished that he spends just an hour where he used to pass the whole day.

“We used to get scared,” Loc told AFP. “But now this is just our normal life.”

Vietnam’s ministry of foreign affairs asked Beijing to investigate the incident — widely reported in Vietnamese media — at the time, and other fishermen from Ly Son island told AFP of similar experiences of harassment at sea.

Since 2014, 98 Vietnamese boats have been destroyed by Chinese vessels, according to figures from the local fishing association on Ly Son, home to hundreds of fishermen and their families whose livelihoods depend on trips out to sea.

Beijing claims almost the entirety of the South China Sea, a waterway of immense strategic importance through which trillions of dollars worth of trade transits every year.

There are rival claims to part of the sea from neighbours including Vietnam, but China has become increasingly aggressive in asserting itself in the area under President Xi Jinping, who is expected to secure a record third consecutive term this month.

Flags shot down 

Close to the water’s edge, where a line of women wearing traditional conical hats sorts the day’s catch, lies Ly Son’s ship repair yard. But it is ill-equipped to handle the hefty damage inflicted on the boats.

Many are forced to sail to the mainland, putting them out of action for days.

Beijing gained control of the Paracel Islands in 1974 after clashes with the South Vietnamese Navy that left 75 Vietnamese troops dead.

Today, Chinese coast guard vessels shoot down the Vietnamese flags that flutter over the cabin of each fishing boat, according to Ly Son’s fishing association, and mostly the crew have no choice but to sail away, fearful of the consequences if they stand their ground.

Over the last three decades, 120 fishermen from Ly Son have died due to attacks by Chinese vessels or because boats from China refused to come to their aid during poor weather, the local fishing association said.

“Our vessels are small,” said Loc. “If we are chased, then we run.”

But Loc, like many of his fellow fishermen, remains committed to the waters, where his grandfather and father fished before him.

“This fishing ground belonged to our ancestors, we will never give it up.”

  • bio
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • latest posts

MAORANDCITIES.COM uses both Facebook and Disqus comment systems to make it easier for you to contribute. We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. All comments should be relevant to the topic. By posting, you agree to our Privacy Policy. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, name-calling, foul language or other inappropriate behavior. Please keep your comments relevant and respectful. By leaving the ‘Post to Facebook’ box selected – when using Facebook comment system – your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the “X” in the upper right corner of the Facebook comment box to report spam or abuse. You can also email us.