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Sunken boats. Stolen gear. Fishermen are prey as China conquers a strategic sea by Shashank Bengali, Vo Kieu Bao Uyen November 13,2020   |  Source: LA Times

On a warm, cloudless morning in June, a giant vessel blasted through the still waters of the South China Sea toward a wooden fishing boat painted in cerulean blue and flying the red flag of Vietnam.

The veteran fishing captain cranked up the engine to flee, but the approaching ship dropped two motorized dinghies into the sea with uniformed officers aboard. The rubber crafts raced along either side of the fishing boat, squeezing it like a pincer.

As the captain slowed to avoid a collision, the large ship was soon upon them. The large letters across its steel hull read: China.

Crammed into their cabin for safety, the 17 men were knocked to the deck by a jolt that nearly tipped the boat. Then another. And another. "Like war," recalled crew member Nguyen Day.

The Chinese vessel smashed the boat repeatedly, damaging the cabin. Four fishermen tumbled overboard. As the officers pulled them from the water, Day, 41, and the other Vietnamese men piled into lifeboats and watched their craft — laden with several hundred pounds of tuna, mackerel, grouper and flying fish — begin to float away.

The June 10 attack was part of Beijing’s hard-nosed offensive in the South China Sea, where Chinese vessels are using increasingly aggressive tactics to deter rival nations and

Theme(s): Fishing Craft, Gear and Fishing Methods.

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