Vietnam has seized a Chinese ship with three people on board, saying they sailed the vessel into its territorial waters, Vietnamese state media reported Sunday. The Border Defense Force of Haiphong City found the vessel carrying 100,000 liters of diesel oil Thursday near Vietnam’s Bach Long Vi Island in the Gulf of Tonkin, reported the An Ninh Thu Do newspaper, which is run by Hanoi Police Department. After seizing it, the force towed the ship to the city.
The arrest of the vessel is a rare move by the Vietnamese authorities, who have accused Chinese fishing vessels of intruding its waters several times in the past without arrests. Tension between Vietnam and China rose to its highest level in decades in 2014, after China towed an oil rig to disputed waters in the South China East Sea in 2014, triggering dangerous boat ramming and anti-China riots in Vietnam.
The captain of the seized vessel said it was carrying fuels for Chinese fishing vessels operating in the area, the newspaper reported. It said Vietnamese authorities are investigating the case.
Officials from Vietnam and China weren’t immediately available for comment on Sunday.