Spokeswoman of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Le Thi Thu Hang

"China’s behaviour stands in contrast to the US's vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, in which all nations, large and small, are secure in their sovereignty, free from coercion, and able to pursue economic growth consistent with accepted international rules and norms," according to the statement.

The US will continue to support efforts to ensure freedom of navigation and economic opportunity throughout the entire Indo-Pacific, it said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the importance of the rules-based international order, as it sets the conditions that enable us to address this shared threat in a way that is transparent, focused, and effective”, it added.

The US called on all parties to refrain from actions that would destabilise the region, distract from the global response to the pandemic, or risk needlessly contributing to loss of life and property.

The Vietnamese vessel, number QNg 90617 TS, with eight fishermen on board, was hit and sank when it was fishing near Hoang Sa's Phu Lam island on April 2nd.

According to spokeswoman of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Le Thi Thu Hang, Vietnam lodged an official complaint with China following the incident.

While answering to reporters’ queries about the incident on April 3rd, Hang said that Vietnam has sufficient legal grounds and historical evidence affirming its sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes in accordance with international law, she said.

Such an act by the China coast guard ship violates Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracel islands, causing damage, threatening the safety of life and the legitimate interests of Vietnamese fishermen.

It also went against the common perception of senior leaders of the two countries on the humane treatment of fishermen and the Vietnam-China agreement on the basic principles guiding the settlement of maritime issues, and in contrary to the spirit of the Declaration of Conduct of the Parties in the East Sea (DOC), which complicates the situation and is not conducive to the bilateral relations as well as the maintenance of peace, stability and cooperation in the East Sea, she said./.