Vietnam Calls for Release of 21 Fishermen

Vietnam is again asking China for the release of 21 detained fishermen that were arrested for fishing near the Paracel Islands. This region is in the disputed South China Sea. Bloomberg reports:

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai met with Chinese Vice Premier Le Keqiang at the Boao Forum for Asia in the southern province of Hainan yesterday and asked that the fishermen and their two vessels be “immediately and unconditionally” freed, according to a statement on the government website.

Vietnam had requested the crews’ release last month, according to a government statement on March 21. Neither statement provides details on when the incident occurred.

The Vietnamese were fishing illegally, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a March 22 briefing in Beijing.

Despite reports that China’s claims that the pacific region is big enough for everyone , China has issued a warning to Vietnam and the Philippines due to joint military exercises and patrols. The Philippine Star adds:

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said on Thursday that China is firmly opposed to the agreement between the Philippines and Vietnam, among the six Spratlys claimant-countries, to stage joint military exercises in the West Philippine Sea and carry out joint patrol on their maritime borders.

Hong said, “China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters.”

“China is firmly opposed to other countries’ acts that undermine China’s sovereignty. Maintaining peace and stability of the South China Sea is in line with the common and fundamental interests of all countries in this region,” Hong said in a press conference in Beijing.

Navy chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama said the holding of joint military exercises was discussed in a meeting between him and Vietnam’s Navy chief Nguyen Van Hien recently.

See also Why China is Playing Nice in the South China Sea via CDT.

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