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  Chinese ships "shot to kill" Vietnamese fishermen; survivor

Chinese ships deliberately shot to kill Vietnamese fishermen during attacks in the Gulf of Tonkin Jan. 8, said a survivor.

"They fiercely attacked us with the intention of killing the crew to steal the boat rather than just stealing our boat," crew member Pham Van Quan said while telling the nightmare tale of Chinese boat attacks which killed nine Vietnamese fishermen and injured seven others.

Quan is a crew member of the boat which managed to reach the shore after being attacked by Chinese ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. The boat returned to port Jan. 11 with one dead and five crew members injured.

However, another Vietnamese boat with a 16-member crew was not so lucky during the attack. Half of the crew were shot to death, while the rest, including two injured, were arrested by the Chinese. The boat is now being held illegally on China's Hainan Island .

Nguyen Van Hoan, owner of the returning boat, showed Thanh Nien reporters hundreds of bullet holes in his boat.

At the time of attacks, the Vietnamese boats were legally fishing in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Shockingly barbaric

With just a small 70-90 CV engine, the Vietnamese boats are unable to go fishing too far from land.
(Source: Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper)

"At 10 a.m. on Jan. 8, I received S.O.S. signals from a Vietnamese fishing boat and asked the crew to withdraw their nets to go and rescue the boat in danger," Mr. Hoan told the reporters while sobbing.

At that time, his boat was located at 19.16 degrees northern latitude and 107.06 degrees eastern longitude, he said.

"But I immediately found my boat surrounded by many vessels carrying Chinese flags. My crew made signs for the strange ships to stay away from the fishing nets but the ships kept coming closer to us.

"Then the Chinese ships opened fire on my boat in the barbaric attack. Nguyen Van Tam was shot through the heart and died instantly. Five other crew members were seriously injured," he lamented.

Notably, the Chinese quickly hid their flags while they were approaching and attacking the Vietnamese ship, crewman Quan recalled.

Mr. Hoan steered his ship towards land but the Chinese ships continued chasing him and firing for three hours.

"I was really shocked," said Nguyen Phi Phuong, owner of the boat detained on Hainan Island with eight bodies and eight crew members. His son Nguyen Manh Hung is among the detainees.

"In recent months, local boats have been attacked by Chinese fishing boats in the Gulf of Tonkin but this time I cannot image Chinese boats attacking my boat so savagely," Mr. Phuong told Thanh Nien reporters on Jan. 11.

Both of the boat owners asserted that their boats were always flying Vietnamese flags while fishing.

Mr. Phuong said he had carefully asked his son to always display the national flag before departing.

"My boat always carries the Vietnamese flag and follows regulations when fishing offshore," Mr. Hoan confirmed.

"Serious affair"

Tension and sadness pervaded the Hau Loc District of Thanh Hoa Province as the fate of the fishermen on the fishing vessel detained on Hainan Island is still unknown.

Most of the 8 fishermen detained on Hainan Island are from Central Vietnams Thanh Hoa Province with only one from northern Quang Ninh Province.

All of the 9 killed fishermen were Thanh Hoa people.

The province's relevant agencies have launched a probe into the cause of the attacks and will contact Chinese agencies to bring the bodies and the fishermen detained on Hainan Island back to Vietnam soon.

Spokesman Le Dzung of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jan. 13 said the attacks were "a serious affair."

"Vietnam is asking China to implement active measures to stop and prevent these erroneous actions, and to investigate the case and strictly punish the murderers," he stressed.

Local authorities have arranged a funeral for Nguyen Van Tam, the dead member of Mr. Hoan's crew.

They also visited the injured fishermen and the families and relatives of those who are being detained in China.

The Vietnamese fishermen detained on Hainan Island:

The Vietnamese fishermen killed in the two attacks:

1) Nguyen Van Dao, 42

1) Nguyen Van Tam

2) Dong Van Chinh, 43

2) Le Van Xuyen

3) Pham Van Canh, 19

3) Nguyen Van Tung

4) Nguyen Van Cuong, 19

4) Nguyen Xuan Trong

5) Nguyen Van Dung, 26

5) Nguyen Huu Bien

6) Pham Van Binh, 18

6) Dinh Van Dong

7) Nguyen Manh Hong, 25

7) Trung (last name still unknown)

8) Truong Dinh Thai, 17

8) Hong (last name still unknown)


9) Dung (last name still unknown)


: Reported by Cao Ngo & Ngoc Minh - Translated by T.H.
Date: 01/17/2005
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