Vietnam protests China's treatment of fishermen
HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnam has demanded that China investigate "brutal" treatment of Vietnamese fishermen who sought shelter during a typhoon in disputed South China Sea islands, where officials allege they were beaten and robbed by Chinese personnel.
The Vietnamese Foreign Ministry sent a note of protest to the Chinese ambassador on Wednesday, objecting to the "brutal actions" of Chinese armed personnel in the Paracels, an island chain claimed by both countries, and demanding severe punishment for those responsible.
The note did not provide details of incident, which took place Sept. 29 during Typhoon Ketsana.
Ngo Duy Muoi, a Vietnamese coast guard official, said Thursday that some 215 fishermen sought shelter from the storm and that an unknown number were beaten by Chinese armed staff who also confiscated their money, jewelry and walkie-talkies.
The foreign ministry note demanded that their property be returned and that the fishermen be compensated for their suffering.
Ketsana killed more than 160 people when it lashed Vietnam's central coast.
The largely uninhabited Paracels straddle busy sea lanes and are believed to have large oil and natural gas reserves.
China has stationed troops on the islands since it ousted Saigon government forces in 1974, one year before the fall of the U.S.-backed South Vietnam government.
The Associated Press - October 22, 2009