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China arrests Vietnamese fishermen for territorial breach

Published on Jul 4, 2014 7:33 PM

HANOI (REUTERS) - Six Vietnamese fishermen have been detained by the crew of a Chinese vessel in the South China Sea, officials of both countries said on Friday, the latest in a two-month fracas between the Communist neighbours over maritime sovereignty.

Authorities from the two countries disagreed on where the boat was detained Thursday morning. Vietnamese officials said it was in disputed waters 56km off the coast of China's Hainan Island and 290km off Vietnam.

The arrests risk escalating the biggest breakdown in ties between Vietnam and China in three decades. China's top diplomat met Vietnam's leadership last month to try to defuse tensions, but talks ended in stalemate.

China's Foreign Ministry said the fishermen had "broken the law" by working in Chinese territorial waters 7 nautical miles south of the city of Sanya on Hainan.

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