The Vietnamese ship was sunk near the disputed Paracel Islands, an island chain which has been one of the hot points of tension in the area. As well as sinking the vessel, the crew was also detained by the Chinese ship. Reported by the South China Morning Post, a local official from the Quang Ngai province near the centre of the country, Nguyen Van Hai said it was the first time an attack has happened in the region this year.
He said: “This is the first time a Chinese ship has hit and sunk boats in our commune this year.”
The fishing boat was hit on Thursday morning local reports stated.
They were later released on Thursday evening but the event could well spark off tensions in the region once again.
Both the Paracel and Spratly Islands were originally claimed by Vietnam but following the implementation of China’s nine-dash line, the islands soon caused a crisis point between the two states the island chain fell within the new policy.
Under the policy, China has laid claim to several islands and regions across the South China Sea currently held by countries.
Although the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea ruled China had no territorial claim to the island chain, Beijing has continued to push its presence.
With the coronavirus almost contained in the country, some security analysts have warned Beijing has begun to increase its naval presence as other countries struggle to deal with the contagion.
Indeed, with cases of the virus rising rapidly in the US, China has alleged looked to capitalise on America’s weak status.
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The US Navy also conducted freedom of navigations operation in the western Pacific.
They said: “The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry – DDG 52 launched a missile during a live-fire exercise and conducted combat information centre operations.
“USS Barry is underway conducting operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific.”
In a further development in the region, China has reportedly discovered a rare form of natural gas.
The natural gas may be used to sell to other countries such as Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Amid business links between Vietnam and China, President of the former Rodrigo Duterte, has begun to soften ties with Beijing.
Chinese medical teams have also arrived in the country in order to try and support the effort against COVID-19.