Beaten Up By China For Going Fishing


Vietnamese fishermen say they are being attacked by China with increasing regularity. Their boats have been rammed, equipment broken and crewmen beaten up.

Vietnam accuses Beijing of trying to force them out of waters in the South China Sea where their families have fished for generations.

As the breaking dawn casts a red-orange rim around the horizon of the South China Sea, Vo Van Giau kneels on the front deck of the fishing boat and locks his hands behind his head.

“That is what they made me do,” he says, pushing his head hard down. “Then they beat me with steel rods and a hammer like this.” He pulls a heavy wooden mallet from a bundle of fishing equipment and strikes himself softly on his shoulders and against his sides.
Van Giau, who is 42, shows photographs of his injuries on his phone – huge, welling bruises and cuts. The attack lasted well over an hour and he needed hospital treatment.

He tells how, in July, Chinese coastguards rammed into his wooden boat – badly damaging it – while he was fishing in waters near the Paracel Islands. They lie about 175 miles (280km) off the Vietnamese mainland – roughly the same distance they are from Chinese island province of Hainan.

Van Giau lives on the small island of Ly Son – in the past year Vietnam says almost half of the island’s boats fishing in this area have come under attack from the Chinese.
“My father fished these waters, my grandfather and my great-grandfather. From ancient times they have belonged to Vietnam. Now China has claimed them and invaded them illegally,” says Van Giau.

This boat is owned by a friend, 62-year-old Vo Van Chuc who has had fishing nets and tackle, together with his catch of fish, stolen by the Chinese coastguard. “All of us are threatened every time we go out,” says Van Chuc.

The boat is small and cramped and cluttered. A faded Vietnamese flag flies on a mast at the front and another above the wheelhouse. Inside there is no state-of-the-art marine equipment, just a radio, a compass and old, rusting dials.

Read more: