Vietnam said it again asked China to release 21 of its citizens detained while fishing near the disputed Paracel Islands.

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai met with Chinese Vice Premier Le Keqiang at the Boao Forum for Asia in the southern province of Hainan yesterday and asked that the fishermen and their two vessels be “immediately and unconditionally freed, according to a statement on the government website.

Vietnam had requested the crews’ release last month, according to a government statement on March 21. Neither statement provides details on when the incident occurred.

The Vietnamese were fishing illegally, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a March 22 briefing in Beijing.

Vietnam yesterday demanded China halt plans for a sailboat race to the Paracels, a chain of 30 islets and reefs in the South China Sea, according to a statement on the government’s website. The islands are controlled by China, which ousted fellow claimant Vietnam in a 1974 battle in which 71 soldiers were killed.

2012 Bloomberg L.P.