This undated image shows a China Coast Guard ship. A Chinese patrol vessel recently rammed a smaller Vietnamese fishing boat in the South China Sea, causing the latter to sink.
AFP, file
Philippines 'deeply concerned' over sinking of Vietnamese boat by Chinese ship
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - April 8, 2020 - 4:44pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government on Wednesday expressed "deep concern" over the reported sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat on the South China Sea.

According to a report from South China Morning Post, Vietnam had released a video showing a much larger Chinese maritime surveillance ship racing after a small wooden Vietnamese fishing boat near an oil rig in the contested waters.

The video footage taken from a nearby Vietnamese vessel showed the Chinese ship ramming into the smaller Vietnamese boat, causing it to turn over and sink.

"Our own similar experience revealed how much trust in a friendship is lost by it; and how much trust was created by Vietnam’s humanitarian act of directly saving the lives of our Filipino fishermen," the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The DFA stressed that the Philippines will not stop thanking Vietnam, whose fishermen rescued distressed Filipino fishermen after a Chinese vessel rammed their fishing boat in June last year.

Last year, a Chinese fishing vessel rammed into Filipino fishing boat GemVer 1 and left its 22 crew members floating at sea for hours near Recto Bank in the South China Sea.

A nearby Vietnamese fishing boat rescued the distressed Filipino fishermen.

"We have not stopped and will not stop thanking Vietnam. It is with that in mind that we issue this statement of solidarity," the DFA said.

In the aftermath of the incident, the Philippine government had hinted that the Filipino fishing crew was partly to blame for the allission and said that there was an agreement to allow Chinese fishers near Recto Bank, which Manila claims as part of the West Philippine Sea.

The DFA said it values the maintenance of peace and stability in the region. It also pointed out that such incidents undermine the potential of a "genuinely deep" and "trusting" relationship among ASEAN nations and China.

"Given the positive momentum on the discussions on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC), it is crucial that such incidents be avoided and that differences be addressed in a manner that enhances dialogue and mutual trust," it said.

ASEAN stood by China in fight vs COVID-19

The Philippines also stressed that ASEAN stood by China upon signing a statement to collectively tackle the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Countries like the Philippines remain "deeply appreciative" of China's assistance in the fight against the deadly virus.

"In our small way we had helped when the crisis in Wuhan was at its worst. Our one good turn did not deserve China’s far more generous return," the DFA statement read.

"The COVID-19 crisis is a crisis like no other in the past; not just in its potential calamitous scale, but in the hope to contain and stop it by unstinting cooperation and fullest trust between all countries, on the realization that if any of us fails the rest will follow; and if any of us succeeds that success must be extended to the rest of the world," it added.

While the rest of the world is facing a pandemic, the Philippines emphasized that there is "never a good time to indulge in provocations."

"As we have said the creation of new facts in the water will never give rise to legal right anywhere or anytime. We therefore urge forbearance and good behavior to each and every government; and to extend that forbearance and behavior to people under our respective jurisdictions," the DFA said.

Vietnam protests sinking of boat

Vietnam, on the other hand, filed an official protest with China over the sinking of a fishing boat after being rammed by a Chinese vessel.

According to a report from Channel News Asia, eight Vietnamese fishermen were onboard the boat when it was rammed by the Chinese vessel.

All fishermen were rescued and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels operating nearby, the report said.

The Vietnamese foreign ministry said the Chinese vessel violated Vietnam's sovereignty over the Paracel Islands, casued propery losses and endangered the lives of the Vietnamese fishermen.

"It also runs counter to the common understandings reached between high-level leaders of the two countries on the humane treatment of fishermen and the Viet Nam - China Agreement on the Basic Principles guiding the Settlement of Sea Issues, contravenes the spirit of the Declaration of Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), complicates the situation and is not conducive to the development of the bilateral relations between the two countries as well as the maintenance of peace, stability and cooperation in the East Sea (South China Sea)," Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang said.

With this, Hanoi asked Beijing to investigate the incident and "strictly discipline" the officers aboard the offending vessel and prevent the incident from happening again. Vietnam also asked China to compensate for the losses of the Vietnamese fishermen.

CHINA PARACEL ISLANDS SOUTH CHINA SEA VIETNAM
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