Bảo hiểm tàu lạ - Strange vessel insurance
Short comics by Thanh Phong
The term "Strange vessels" (Tàu lạ) has become popular in the Vietnamese media in the last few years, denoting unidentified vesssels that suddenly attack and sink Vietnamese fishing ships in the Vietnamese East Sea (as known as South China Sea) and then sepped away, leaving the victims in dangerous situations. These vessels, possesing high-speed capabilities, neither carry national flags nor have plate numbers, and, because they usually attack at night, fishermen can rarely identify where they come from.
Due to the fact that the "strange vessels" neither take anything from the targeted fishing ships nor capture people, the possibility that they arre pirates has been ruled out. Therefore, whenever news of a "strange vessels" appears in the press, Vietnamese people often ask who owns these vessels and what their reasons are for attacking Vietnamese fishermen. These questions so far remain unanswered, as proof of the origins of the "strange vessels" is difficult to find. It is unlikely that Southeast Asian littoral states have either the capabilities or interests to send ships close to Vietnamese coastal areas, especially those in the central part of Vietnam
Therefore, many Vietnamese believe, even without clear evidence, that the ships are employed by China to dissuade Vietnamese fishermen from going farther into the South China Sea, thus strengthening China's claim to the SCS. A group of fishing ships captains in Thanh Khe District, Da Nang province reportedly requested local authorities to make it public that the "strange vessels" came from China(2011). However, there is no official confirmation from Vietnam concerning their request. While the investigation on the owners of "strange vessels" is still underway, Vietnamese fishermen continue to work with the high economic and personal security risks of being attacked by them.
The tragedy of Vietnamese Fishermen: The forgotten faces of Territorial Disputeds in the South China Sea, Ha Anh Tuan, Asia Journal of Global Studies