The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday expressed concern over reports that a Vietnamese fishing vessel sank off the South China Sea—officially designated as the West Philippine Sea—on Friday.
In a report by news agency Reuters, the Vietnamese vessel was rammed by a Chinese vessel.
Vietnam’s foreign ministry condemned China’s alleged sinking of the vessel Paracel Islands.
“The Chinese vessel committed an act that violated Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa archipelago and threatened the lives and damaged the property and legitimate interests of Vietnamese fishermen,” Vietnam’s statement read.
A DFA statement said the country’s trust and friendship with Vietnam was rooted in a similar experience where Filipino fishermen were saved by a Vietnamese vessel.
The DFA may be pertaining to a June 9, 2019 incident when a Philippine fishing vessel manned by 22 crew members was plowed by a Chinese fishing vessel late at night and was rescued by a Vietnamese vessel.
“Our own similar experience revealed how much trust in a friendship is lost by it; and how much trust was created by Vietnam’s humanitarian act of directly saving the lives of our Filipino fishermen,” the DFA said.
DFA also expressed the importance of establishing peace within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations through the WPS.
“The DFA values the maintenance of peace and stability in the South China Sea and notes that such incidents undermine the potential of a genuinely deep and trusting regional relationship between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China,” it stated.
The department also said that strengthening the bond of ASEAN countries and China is vital nowadays with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The continued strengthening of regional relations is especially critical in light of the ASEAN-China joint commitment to collectively tackle the ongoing crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the DFA stated.