Karma at sea: Chinese boat gets stuck in Ayungin

Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star
Karma at sea: Chinese boat gets stuck in Ayungin
This photo taken on Aug. 22, 2023 from the deck of Philippine coast guard ship BRP Cabra shows a Chinese coast guard ship (R) shadowing a civilian boat (C) chartered by the Philippine navy to deliver supplies to Philippine navy ship BRP Sierra Madre in Second Thomas Shoal, known in the disputed South China Sea. A team of AFP journalists on board the BRP Cabra, one of the two Philippine Coast Guard escort boats, watched as one of the Chinese ships came within several meters of the vessel. AFP was one of three media outlets given the rare opportunity to join the Philippine resupply mission to Second Thomas Shoal, less than three weeks after Chinese coast guard ships water cannoned a similar replenishment operation.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — In what the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) described as karma, a Chinese watercraft got involved in a mishap while taking part in a maneuver by other Chinese vessels to stop a resupply mission for a Philippine military outpost in Ayungin Shoal on Friday.

AFP spokesman Col. Medel Aguilar said yesterday a Chinese rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) got entangled with the mooring line of a fishing boat while trailing a Philippine resupply vessel that was on its way to the grounded BRP Sierra Madre to unload provisions.

“It’s about the karma that they experienced when they tried to shadow our resupply vessel,” he said during the Saturday News Forum at the Dapo Restaurant and Bar in Quezon City.

The boat was part of a flotilla of four Chinese coast guard and four maritime militia ships that tried to prevent Philippine vessels from delivering supplies to troops stationed on the Sierra Madre.

The RHIB was about 50 yards southwest of the Sierra Madre when it got stuck after its propeller hit the fishing line of another Chinese boat, Aguilar said.

Troops on the Sierra Madre offered assistance but the Chinese refused, opting to wait for another RHIB, which towed the distressed boat from Ayungin Shoal.

What was amusing, according to Aguilar, was when the CCG sent a radio message blaming the supply mission for the mishap involving Chinese vessels. “We offered assistance, they refused and now we’re being blamed,” he said in Filipino.

The military’s spokesman said he would not be surprised if China would fabricate a different story to draw sympathy from its people. “This is one narrative probably that they will again raise or tell their people about abuses that we had committed,” he said.

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea on Friday denounced the CCG for its “illegal, aggressive and destabilizing conduct” within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Aguilar said the CCG’s action was “misplaced” and a clear proof that China is a bully.

The military’s spokesman also criticized China for always declaring “indisputable claim” over the West Philippine Sea even if the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea and the 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration say otherwise.

“The word indisputable is disputable in itself and there are many evidence to prove that,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri lauded President Marcos yesterday for his “firm but diplomatic” statements on the South China Sea issue during the recent ASEAN summit in Jakarta.

In a dwIZ interview, Zubiri said Marcos was right about dismissing claims that the Philippines was caught in a “proxy war” between the US and China over the South China Sea issue.

“I thank the President for saying that this is not just a proxy war. What we are fighting for is our sovereignty as well as the territorial sovereignty of each and every nation,” Zubiri said. “What the President said was a strong, diplomatic statement.”

Marcos said during the ASEAN summit that framing the South China Sea issue as a “strategic competition between two powerful countries” was absolutely wrong and unfair to the Philippines.

In one of the meetings attended by Chinese Premier Li Qiang, Marcos called on other nations to oppose China’s “dangerous use of coast guard and maritime militia vessels in the South China Sea” as well as its “unregulated fishing” and “militarization of reclaimed features.”

Zubiri said his office received a video of three Chinese ships conducting “dangerous maneuvers” around two Philippine vessels during Friday’s resupply mission.

“It is clear in the video that two Chinese coast guards and one militia vessel are harassing our supply vessel. The dangerous maneuvers could have resulted in a collision. We condemn this ‘patintero’ style of harassment,” Zubiri said.

“We have to seek alliances, because if not, we will be eaten alive by a superpower. We have to remain vigilant, at the same time, cautious, while continuing our diplomatic talks,” the senator said. — Marc Jayson Cayabyab

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