Tensions Soar After Chinese Boat Rams, Sinks Vietnamese Vessel In Disputed Waters

Tensions in the South China Sea are once again soaring after a Vietnames fishing boat reportedly came under attack by a Chinese vessel near the contested Paracel Islands, a Vietnamese official said Friday. According to the Australian Associated Press the dangerous incident has sent tensions in the region to “a new high”.

The Vietnamese boat was fishing near Discovery Reef some 370 kilometers off Da Nang in Paracel island chain when according to Hanoi government officials it was rammed by the presumably larger Chinese vessel. The fishing boat capsized, leaving five Vietnamese crewmen clinging to the side of their upturned vessel for two hours before they were rescued by another nearby fishing boat.

Crucially, the Paracel archipelago is an intensely disputed island chain and territory, claimed by both Vietnam and China, the latter which took control of the islands in 1974. It’s known as Xisha in Chinese and Hoàng Sa in Vietnamese, and the People’s Republic of China has over the past years attempted to solidify its hold by building up reefs and artificial islands, including the construction of military installations and harbors.

This has resulted in a significant uptick in similar “ramming attack” incidents on Vietnamese boats of late. The Chinese coast guard is said to be especially active in intercepting and chasing away all non-Chinese boats, assisted in this regard by civilian boats who act as a maritime militia enforcing Chinese claims over the waters.

Over the past year more than a dozen such incidents have been reported in regional press, something that’s become commonplace enough for one analyst and east Asian affairs expert, Greg Poling at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, to comment: “China’s neighbors have become so numb to the constant exercise of low-intensity violence and intimidation that it will warrant barely a mention in regional press.”

Meanwhile, entirely to be expected Beijing had a very different version of events, according to the Associated Press:

The official Chinese Communist Party newspaper reported that a Chinese government vessel received a distress call from a Vietnamese fishing boat and sailed to the area, where it found the boat partly sunk. The online report, quoting Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, said the Chinese ship immediately contacted China’s maritime search and rescue center to dispatch a rescue vessel and the five Vietnamese fishermen were rescued.

Not only did Chinese authorities claim that no attack occurred, but they implied China was actually involved in mobilizing a rescue.

The AP report continues:

Lu said nothing about a vessel, Chinese or otherwise, ramming the Vietnamese ship other than to cite the original Vietnamese report. He also didn’t specifically say that the Chinese ship rescued the fishermen.

China’s expanding territorial claims in the South and East China Seas have sent tensions soaring with other American allies in the region as well, including the Philippines, which has recently expressed concern over increasing US “freedom of navigation” exercises and flyovers of airspace near the Chinese coast, given the potential for the Philippines to be dragged into any explosive scenario that could result in increased US-China confrontations.

For example, on Monday of this week two US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress long-range bombers took off from Guam and entered disputed airspaces of the South and East China seas to conduct “routine training missions” as confirmed by US Air Force official statements.

China has routinely condemned such operations as dangerous provocations, in some cases communicating dire warnings to American planes or ships to depart “Chinese territory”.

Chinese ship reportedly rams and sinks a Vietnamese fishing boat in the Paracels (again). China’s neighbors have become so numb to the constant exercise of low-intensity violence and intimidation that it will warrant barely a mention in regional press. https://t.co/fgumeS3MXR

— Greg Poling (@GregPoling) March 7, 2019

In a rare statement issued Tuesday, the Philippines’ top defense official, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, warned that increased US activity in the region could spark unnecessary tensions possibly leading to war with China.

He said the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) runs the risk of causing “confusion and chaos during a crisis,” especially as the US ramps ups such aerial patrols of the region and “freedom of navigation” exercises.

“The Philippines is not in a conflict with anyone and will not be at war with anyone in the future. But the United States, with the increased and frequent passage of its naval vessels in the West Philippine Sea, is more likely to be involved in a shooting war. In such a case and on the basis of the MDT, the Philippines will be automatically involved,” Lorenzana said, according to CNN Philippines, using the local term for the South China Sea (the West Philippine Sea).

The United States, for its part, has long held its operations, even when sailing close to disputed islands claimed by China or flying overhead, are intended to assert that the area is international waters and in international airspace.

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waters [275] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese veswel in disputed waters [276] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vesswl in disputed waters [277] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vesssl in disputed waters [278] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessdl in disputed waters [279] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessrl in disputed waters [280] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vess4l in disputed waters [281] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vess3l in disputed waters [282] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessek in disputed waters [283] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessep in disputed waters [284] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vesseo in disputed waters [285] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel un disputed waters [286] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel jn disputed waters [287] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel kn disputed waters [288] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel on disputed waters [289] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel 9n disputed waters [290] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel 8n disputed waters [291] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel ib disputed waters [292] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel im disputed waters [293] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel ij disputed waters [294] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel ih disputed waters [295] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in sisputed waters [296] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in xisputed waters [297] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in cisputed waters [298] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in fisputed waters [299] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in risputed waters [300] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in eisputed waters [301] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in dusputed waters [302] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in djsputed waters [303] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in dksputed waters [304] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in dosputed waters [305] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in d9sputed waters [306] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in d8sputed waters [307] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in diaputed waters [308] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in dizputed waters [309] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in dixputed waters [310] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in didputed waters [311] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in dieputed waters [312] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in diwputed waters [313] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disouted waters [314] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disluted waters [315] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in dis-uted waters [316] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in dis0uted waters [317] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in dispyted waters [318] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disphted waters [319] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in dispjted waters [320] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in dispited waters [321] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disp8ted waters [322] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disp7ted waters [323] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in dispured waters [324] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in dispufed waters [325] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in dispuged waters [326] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in dispuyed waters [327] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in dispu6ed waters [328] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in dispu5ed waters [329] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputwd waters [330] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputsd waters [331] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputdd waters [332] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputrd waters [333] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disput4d waters [334] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disput3d waters [335] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputes waters [336] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputex waters [337] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputec waters [338] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputef waters [339] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputer waters [340] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputee waters [341] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed qaters [342] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed aaters [343] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed saters [344] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed eaters [345] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed 3aters [346] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed 2aters [347] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed wzters [348] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed wsters [349] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed wwters [350] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed wqters [351] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed warers [352] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed wafers [353] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed wagers [354] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed wayers [355] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed wa6ers [356] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed wa5ers [357] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed watwrs [358] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed watsrs [359] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed watdrs [360] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed watrrs [361] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed wat4rs [362] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed wat3rs [363] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed watees [364] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed wateds [365] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed watefs [366] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed watets [367] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed wate5s [368] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed wate4s [369] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed watera [370] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed waterz [371] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed waterx [372] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed waterd [373] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed watere [374] => tensions soar after chinese boat rams, sinks vietnamese vessel in disputed waterw ) </h1> </body>