Vietnam, China trade accusations after Vietnamese fishingboat sinks
HANOI/BEIJING Tue May 27, 2014 1:53am EDTHANOI/BEIJING (Reuters) - Vietnam and China traded accusations on Tuesday over the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat not far from where China has placed an oil rig in the disputed South ChinaSea, as tensions fester between the two countries over the giant drilling platform.Hanoi said some 40 Chinese fishing boats had surrounded the Vietnamese craft before one of themrammed it and it sank. Vietnamese fishing boats operating nearby rescued the 10 fishermen onboard, the government and the coastguard said.China's official Xinhua news agency, citing a government source, said the vessel capsized after"harassing and colliding with" a Chinese fishing boat.Scores of Vietnamese and Chinese ships, including coastguard vessels, have continued to square off around the rig despite a series of collisions earlier this month after the platform was towed to thesite.Each side have blamed the other over those incidents. Until Monday, no ship had sunk.The incident took place around 17 nautical miles from the rig, which is drilling between the Paracelislands occupied by China and the Vietnamese coast. China calls them the Xisha islands."A Vietnamese boat from the central city of Da Nang was deliberately encircled by 40 fishing vesselsfrom China before it was attacked by a Chinese ship," the head of Vietnam's coastguard, NguyenQuang Dam, told Reuters by telephone.Xinhua said: "Crew aboard the boat were saved after their ship jostled a fishing boat from DongfangCity in southern China's Hainan province and overturned in the waters near China's Xisha Islands."