Vietnam has accused Chinese authorities of beating its fishermen and has demanded severe punishment for those involved.

Vietnam's Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on its website late Tuesday that a Vietnamese fishing vessel which was fishing normally near the Paracel islands on Aug. 15 was intercepted by two Chinese speedboats. The Chinese on the speedboats vandalized the fishing boat, illegally confiscated some property and beat the fishermen.

It says that Chinese vessels also harassed two Vietnamese fishing boats in two other separate incidents earlier in August.

Vietnam demanded that China carry out investigation and severely punish those involved and compensate the Vietnamese fishermen, the statement quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh as saying.

Vietnam has lodged a protest with the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi.