"Carrots" thrown to the South China Sea
The shadow of the country's government and armed forces is behind the action of every Vietnamese fishing boat.
The largest scale of support policy was in August 2014 when Vietnamese’s "No. 67 Protocol" was in effect. This policy encourages fishermen to manufacture large steel fishing vessels, thus turning offshore fishing to high sea fishing which has more economic benefits. Previously, most of the Vietnamese fishing boats were involved in offshore operations as those low-power boats cannot reach the South China Sea.
"Vietnamese government does support us to go fishing in the disputed waters. They not only give us a lot of logistical assistance, and often send out boats to rescue fishermen 'at risk'. The coast guard often sent ships to drive off 'Chinese ships', which provides us with a sense of security when we go fishing in the South China Sea," said the owner of a Vietnamese fishing vessel.
There has been a surge on the number of large-scale fishing vessels in Vietnam. Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported in February 2016 that 35 ship owners in Quang Ngai and 28 ship owners in Khanh Hoa received government support loans. 35 fishing boat owners in Binh Dinh signed contracts to build new ships.
Vietnamese fishermen Pei Deqing of Bình Sơn District is one of the beneficiaries of "No 67 Protocol." Thanks to the low-interest loans provided by the government, he bought a nearly 750 horsepower power boat with 5.4 billion VND (equivalent to approximately 1.6 million yuan).
"Any fisherman wants to have a large fishing boat. My wife and I are very happy to have the new boat. We look forward to fishing with this boat and we hope it will improve our lives,"Pei said.
The Vietnamese government has banned the construction of small power boats, trying to force fishermen to try high sea fishing. However, even with large fishing boat that has collision advantages, Vietnamese fishermen are still reluctant to take the risk of being arrested at any time to the South China Sea.
Some Vietnamese fishermen use government-funded large ships for offshore fishing. Vietnamese governments at all levels are every angry and they have introduced a number of "carrots": tax-free, fuel subsidies and other policies to encourage fishermen to go to the South China Sea. Those Vietnamese fined by China can even get "compensation" from the Vietnamese government.
The Vietnamese government also arms the maritime surveillance and coast guard with heavy artillery guns to back illegal fishing; maritime militias have also been strengthened. Every fishing boat that goes to the South China Sea has at least three armed militias and every ten fishing boats will form a flotilla and they will go to the South China Sea together.
"When we seize a Vietnamese fishing boat that has crossed our border, there will be many Vietnamese fishing boats coming to help. They form very professional formation and we often can hear rapid cries for help in our walkie-talkies," said one Chinese marine law enforcement officer.The officer added that ordinary fishermen cannot organize such an effective counterattack.
Vietnam’s Youth Daily quoted a senior official of Vietnam's Phu Yen Province as saying, "Our professionals also teach some emergency response methods to fishermen. Vietnam fishermen at sea must stay in solidarity and help each other. I have instructed the Department of Agricultural Development of Phu Yen to provide some emergency equipment to local fishing boats."
The South China Sea is rich of precious tunas and thus the Vietnamese government is also actively developing overseas markets. On October 31, 2015, Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang attended a handover ceremony of fishing equipment.
VNA reported that the equipment were donated by the Japanese customers to fishermen of Binh Dinh Province. The equipment donation only worth several million yuan but Vietnam rose the ceremony to the highest political level, which means that the Vietnamese side seeks every opportunity to "internationalize" the South China Sea issue.
The Vietnamese government also issued communications, medical and other supporting measures to encourage Vietnamese fishing boats to fish in the South China Sea. Recently, the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture is installing global satellite communications system for 3000 ocean-going fishing vessels.
Large shore signal stations were built in 15 Vietnamese provinces and cities in 2013. These places also gave two thousand sets of remote communications equipment to fishermen. These equipment can be connected to global positioning system.
The Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Online Newspaper reported on December 21, 2015 that Vietnam's official media initiated a project, which encourages the donation of communication devices to fishermen.