China refutes reports of mistreated Vietnamese fishermen

Updated: 2012-03-01 18:52


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BEIJING - China on Thursday refuted media reports accusing it of using force against Vietnamese fishermen in sea areas of the Xisha Islands during a law-enforcement process.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei used a regular press briefing to counter the allegations.

China reportedly used force against 11 Vietnamese fishermen on a vessel on February 22 and prevented them from entering the waterway to avoid high winds.

Media reports also said these Vietnamese fishermen had been assaulted and robbed by the Chinese side.

Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi said on Thursday that China's action seriously infringed upon Vietnam's sovereignty and gravely threatened the lives and security of its fishermen.

Rejecting these media reports as inconsistent with the facts, Hong stressed that the Chinese side did not use force in the law-enforcement process and did not board the Vietnamese ship.

Hong reaffirmed that China has indisputable sovereignty over the Xisha Islands and its adjacent waters.

Chinese departments have recently expelled from China some Vietnamese ships committing fishing piracy in the waters of the Xisha Islands, he said, noting China's action is legitimate and lawful.

In the spirit of humanism, China has always offered rescue assistance to Vietnamese fishermen in real distress, and Vietnam has also expressed gratitude for this help, Hong added.

Hong requested the Vietnamese side respect China's sovereignty over the Xisha Islands and take effective measures to strengthen education and regulation of its fishermen, in a bid to stop illegal fishing operations and safeguard the China-Vietnam friendship.