MANILA - Vietnam on Thursday said it was only complying with international maritime laws when its vessel rescued Filipino fishermen near Reed Bank.
Le Thi Thu Hang, spokeswoman of Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said all vessels are responsible for enforcing the international maritime laws, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Convention of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
"Accordingly, the ships are responsible for humanitarian treatment and support fishermen in distress at sea," she told reporters.
"Vietnamese fishing vessels have performed international obligations when operating at sea as defined in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 and the IMO Convention that Vietnam is a member."
Philippine lawmakers and critics have slammed China after its boat rammed and abandoned the Filipino fishermen on June 9.
The Filipino crew was rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel in coordination with the Philippine military.
China had said the captain of its vessel tried to save the fishermen but was "afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats."
A maritime law expert, however, said satellite data contradicted China's claim.
The incident happened within the Philippines 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea, which is being claimed almost entirely by China.