China Demands the Philippines Return Boats Promptly, Unconditionally
A recent naval incident in the South China Sea between the Philippines and China resulted in 25 Chinese fishing boats being abandoned in the Philippines, again raising tensions regarding territorial waters. From Xinhua:
“China has presented its stance to the Philippines. We demand that the Philippines return the small Chinese boats unconditionally and as soon as possible, and properly handle related issues,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a daily press briefing.
On Tuesday, a Philippine military vessel entered the sea area neighboring the Liyue Tan, also known as the Reed Bank, of the Nansha archipelago in the South China Sea and tried to approach a Chinese fishing vessel towing 25 smaller, unoccupied boats, Jiang said.
The propeller of the Philippine vessel got tangled with the rope, disconnecting the Chinese fishing vessel from the 25 smaller boats.
“The Chinese fishermen and the fishing vessel are currently safe,” Jiang said.
She said China has undisputed sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and neighboring sea.
The Filipino Department of Foreign Affairs had said that an apology to the Chinese was unnecessary. From the Philippine Star:
In Manila, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) was firm that no apology was necessary for the recent collision of Philippine Navy and Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea.
“No apologies were necessary and none was given,” DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez said yesterday, amid comments from various sources that China does not deserve an apology because the Chinese boats were in Philippine waters.
The statement from the DFA came as Defense department spokesman lawyer Zosimo Paredes clarified that contrary to earlier reports, no formal apology has been forwarded to China in relation to the collision involving a patrolling Navy gunboat and a Chinese fishing vessel on Tuesday.
“No formal apology given, just a diplomatic tact,” Paredes said.
However, the Philippine Navy has issued its own apology to the Chinese Embassy. From GMA News:
Paredes [a spokesperson] said Navy chief Vice Admiral Alexandar Pama immediately ordered the Navy to send an apology to the Chinese Embassy after learning about the incident.
“I think there was already an apology to the Chinese Embassy here in Manila. It’s in the form of incident information to the Chinese Embassy here. At the same time, we are saying that the damage is not intentional. The minor incident was unfortunate, that was a result of unforeseen circumstances,” Paredes said.
“There was no intent to ram them whatsoever, we are just doing a rightful job. They (Chinese fishermen) are within our territory so they have to be accosted of course,” he added.