The marine forces in the south-central province of Binh Thuan detected and seized the ship while it was docking four nautical miles off the province's coast on March 25, the Ho Chi Minh City Law newspaper run by the city's Justice Department said.

It did not say what the ship was doing in Vietnamese waters.

The ship was in the waters between Vietnam's coastline and the Spratlys, an oil-rich archipelago claimed by China and in full or in part, by Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

On April 1 the border forces told the Chinese captain of the ship, Jun Li Qiang, he had to pay a fine of 75 million dong for "steering the ship into Vietnamese waters without licence", the newspaper said.

The captain has to pay the fine within five days and leave Vietnam with his 17 crew members, including Hong Kong and Chinese sailors, by midnight on April 6, the report added.

Reuters - April 2, 2009