Vietnam ’s Foreign Ministry once again requested China to release Vietnamese fishing vessels detained by the neighbouring country, calling it a “serious violation of Vietnamese sovereignty”.

The ministry’s spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi said in a regular press conference on May 24 that China seized two fishing vessels and 14 Vietnamese crew members on May 16 in the Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago.

Five days later, China released one vessel and all the crewmen, who safely got back to the mainland on May 23.

However, it detained the other vessel that contained all the seafood and fishing equipment of both ships.

The Foreign Ministry met representatives from the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi to complain about China ’s seizing Vietnamese vessels and fishermen in Vietnam ’s territory.

“ Vietnam requests China promptly return fishing vessel QNg 5003 TS and all assets seized by China on May 16 and discontinue this activity,” said Nghi.

He also asked China to release another fishing vessel detained since March 14.

Addressing a question on the upcoming visit of the US Secretary of Defense, the spokesperson confirmed that Leon Panetta is expected to be in Vietnam from June 3-5 as part of his Asian tour.

“This visits aims to increase mutual understanding and cooperation between the two ministries,” he said.-VNA