This recent Reuters article details Vietnam’s accusation that Chinese ships chased and attacked a trawler on March 20th in the South China Sea. Furthermore, Vietnamese newspapers revealed images of the ships charred cabin and the foreign ministry noted that it is a serious case violating Vietnam’s sovereignty. While Chinese officials deny the claims, Vietnam demands they investigate the case and compensates for the damages imposed on the fishermen.
The issue marks the continuous conflict over the South China Sea, which China has claimed control over in the midst of disputes with Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, Brunei, Taiwan, and Malaysia. The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesman not only refutes the Vietnamese claims but has called for fishermen to be taught to stay out of the area. The spokesman also stated that the response against the fishermen was reasonable given the illegal nature of the Vietnamese actions to intrude on their waters. This event and the 10.7 percent increase in annual defense spending are signs of China’s increasing assertiveness at home and abroad.