Vietnam has seized a Chinese ship with three people on board, saying they sailed the vessel into its territorial waters, Vietnamese state media reported Sunday.

The Border Defense Force of Haiphong City found the vessel carrying 100,000 liters of diesel oil Thursday near Vietnam’s Bach Long Vi Island in the Gulf of Tonkin, reported the An Ninh Thu Do newspaper, which is run by Hanoi Police Department. After seizing it, the force towed the ship to the city.

The arrest of the vessel is a rare move by the Vietnamese authorities, who have accused Chinese fishing vessels of intruding its waters several times in the past without arrests.

Tension between Vietnam and China rose to its highest level in decades in 2014, after China towed an oil rig to disputed waters in the South China Sea in 2014, triggering dangerous boat ramming and anti-China riots in Vietnam.

The captain of the seized vessel said it was carrying fuels for Chinese fishing vessels operating in the area, the newspaper reported.

It said Vietnamese authorities are investigating the case.

Officials from Vietnam and China weren't immediately available for comment on Sunday.

By Vu Trong Khanh - The Wall Street Journal - April 3, 2016

Vietnam seizes Chinese oil tanker for infringing its waters

A Chinese oil tanker and its crew were captured by Vietnamese border defense soldiers in the Gulf of Tonkin earlier this week for intruding into Vietnam’s maritime territory, the border defense command said.

The Command of Hai Phong Border Defense has announced that the unit had caught a Chinese oil tanker operating within Vietnamese waters in the gulf on Thursday.

One of the largest cities in Vietnam, Hai Phong is a municipality located on the northern coast.

According to the Hai Phong Border Defense, the unit detected Chinese vessel number 13056 violating Vietnam’s sovereignty at a location 12 nautical miles to the southwest of the Gulf of Tonkin’s maritime delimitation, which is within the administration of Vietnam’s offshore district of Bach Long Vi.

The First Flotilla under the Second Squadron of the Hai Phong Border Defense immediately set out on a chase and captured the violating vessel.

The oil tanker was captained by 38-year-old Tan Shuiyang from Guangdong, who led a crew of two other Chinese nationals.

Tan confessed to Vietnamese authorities that the tanker was carrying over 100,000 liters of diesel oil to refuel fishing vessels in the area.

The captain, however, failed to present relevant documents to prove the origin of the oil, while his two crew members had no operating license.

The violating tanker and all three seafarers were taken to the Bach Dang estuary on Friday evening for further investigation.

Tuoi Tre News - April 4, 2016