China denies coast guard ‘forcefully’ taking rocket debris

China denies coast guard �forcefully� taking rocket debris
This handout photo taken on March 2, 2022 and released by Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on March 27, shows a Chinese coast guard ship (L) shadowing a Philippine coast guard vessel (R) while conducting a maritime patrol in Scarborough Shoal in South China sea. The Philippine coastguard accused its Chinese counterpart on March 27 of illegally steering one of its ships close to a Filipino patrol vessel on March 2 in disputed South China Sea waters, risking a collision.
Handout / Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — China has denied reports of their coast guard “forcefully” retrieving debris from a Chinese rocket found floating off Pagasa Island in Palawan and said are “inconsistent with facts.”

Quoting the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the Chinese Embassy in Manila said the object was found floating in the waters at around 8 a.m. on Sunday. This was first retrieved and towed by the Philippine Navy. 

“After friendly consultation the Philippine side returned the floating object to the Chinese side on the spot. The Chinese side expressed gratitude to the Philippine side,” the Chinese Embassy in Manila said in a statement late Monday evening.

“There was no so-called blocking of the course of a Philippine Navy boat and forcefully retrieving the object at the scene.”

However, the military Western Command in Puerto Princesa said Monday that as Manila’s Naval Station Emilio Liwanag team was towing the floating object, a CCG vessel with Bow Number 5203 was seen approaching their location.

The Chinese vessel blocked their pre-plotted course two times, before deploying a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat that “forcefully retrieved” the object.

READ: Wescom: China coast guard took debris Philippine Navy retrieved off Pag-asa

On Monday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said it is “aware of the incident and awaits detailed reports from maritime law enforcement agencies.” While no update has been made yet, the DFA also noted that a “thorough review will be conducted.”

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