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And China's Foreign Ministry is defending the decision to detain 21 Vietnamese fishermen in what it is calling a violation of the Chinese regime's sovereignty. The fishermen were arrested earlier this month near a disputed territory between Vietnam and China in the South China Sea. Chinese officials are asking for a ransom for their release, which so far Vietnam has refused to pay.
On March 3rd, Chinese forces captured two Vietnamese fishing boats off the coast of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.
Chinese officials claim that the Vietnamese boats were illegally fishing in Chinese waters, and are demanding a ransom for their release of 70,000 yuan, or over 11,000 USD.
Vietnamese officials have told the families not to pay the ransom and are asking China for their unconditional release.
At a press conference today, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei defended China's position, saying it was an infringement on China's sovereignty.
[Hong Lei, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman]:
"China is against any foreign activity that violates China's sovereignty. We hope that the relevant side can genuinely respect the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and not make any moves that could increase the complexity of the South China Sea issue."
China has claimed a large part of the South China Sea as its territory, using a map from the late 1950's to support its claims.
Vietnam disputes China's claim to the territory, and has been in conflict with China over the resources around the Paracel Islands.
The capture of the two Vietnamese ships and 21 fishermen show that China is becoming more aggressive, and using force to assert its claims in the South China Sea.