Vietnam has seized a Chinese vessel for encroaching into its territorial waters, state media has reported. The seizure is the latest sign of heightened tensions among nations in increasingly fraught disputes over rights to the South China Sea.
The Chinese vessel with its captain and two sailors has been towed into the northern port city of Hai Phong and is currently in the custody of Vietnamese authorities. The captain and sailors are under arrest, the BBC reports. There was no immediate response from China.
Vietnamese officials said the boat was disguised as a fishing boat but was transporting 100,000 litres of diesel oil that was to be sold to Chinese fishing boats operating illegally in Vietnamese territorial waters. Hanoi officials said the captain admitted that was the purpose of the vessel. It was stopped near the Vietnamese island of Bach Long Vi and the Chinese island of Hainan.
Authorities said the coastguard had recently chased more than 100 Chinese fishing boats out of Vietnamese territorial waters. It’s very unusual for the Vietnamese to seize boats.