Vietnamese officials have begun an investigation into the death of a fisherman who was shot in disputed waters in the South China Sea.

Sources claim that Nguyen Dinh Bay, 42, was shot when two speed boats approached and three men jumped into his fishing boat on November 26. The reason for the attack as well as the ship’s nationality are unclear, the Vietnamese newspaper Thanh Nien News reported.

Boats parked in the Hàn river in Vietnam. File photo: Wikicommons.

Five days after the attack, the boat carrying Bay’s body and thirteen other crew members docked at Sa Ky port, said Ly Tho, the vice chairman of Binh Son District.

“The authorities are investigating the incident. They did a postmortem examination and got statements from the captain and others. The result will be announced once it is available,” Tho said.

Le Hai Binh, spokesperson for the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Tuesday that he strongly condemned and opposed “the inhumane killing, and the use of force against Vietnamese fishermen.”

“We have instructed Vietnamese diplomatic missions in nations that line the South China Sea to quickly probe the killing and to clarify this serious case,” he said.

In response to media reports that said Chinese vessels had threatened to use force against the Vietnamese supply ship Hai Dang 05 off the disputed islands, Binh said these actions “violate international law,” and “seriously threaten peace and stability in the region, and are completely unacceptable and unjustifiable.”

Vo Trong Viet, Deputy Minister of Defense, has ordered the border guard agency to investigate the case.

South China Sea territorial disputes. Photo: Wikicommons.

Last year, the Vietnamese parliament endorsed plans to spend more than US$750 million to support its maritime forces on coast guard.

Back in June, China moved a controversial oil rig closer to Vietnam’s coast in the disputed South China Sea.

Tension has increased between China and Vietnam in recent years over territorial claims of the disputed Islands located in the South China Sea. Brunei, Taiwan, Malaysia and Philippines also claim parts of the waters.

Koel Chu

Koel Chu is a second-year journalism and fine arts student at the University of Hong Kong. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Koel is interested in the arts and urban design. She interned at China Radio International in Beijing and, at her university, she also works as Vice-President of Branding and Marketing in AIESEC, the largest youth-run organisation in the world.