China Says No Such Thing as ‘Hit-and-Run’ in South China Sea


China confirmed that a Chinese fishing vessel was involved in an incident with Filipino fishermen in South China Sea but denied that it hit and abandoned them.

China’s preliminary investigation showed that Chinese fishing vessel Yuemaobinyu 42212 from Guangdong province was engaged in a “light purse seine operation” about midnight on June 9 when it was suddenly besieged by seven or eight Filipino fishing boats, according to a statement posted on the Twitter account of the Chinese embassy in Manila.

The Philippines this week filed a diplomatic protest against China after it said the crew of a Chinese fishing boat sank a Filipino vessel carrying 22 fishermen in South China Sea, an incident seen as potentially inflaming a dispute calmed by warm ties between the nations’ leaders.

Philippine Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio called on the Filipino people to take a strong stand against what he views as latest aggressive act of China. The incident may signal the start of a “new gray zone offensive” by China to drive away Filipino fishing vessels in the South China Sea, he said.

“The ramming of F/B Gimver I is a quantum escalation of China’s aggressive acts against the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea,” Carpio said in a statement.

Captain’s Fear
In its statement, China said one of the Filipino boats in Reed Bank in the South China Sea tilted and its stern foundered after being bumped by the Chinese vessel’s steel cable. “The Chinese captain tried to rescue the Filipino fishermen but was afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats,” it said. “There is no such thing as hit-and-run.”

The statement was posted on Friday on the embassy’s Facebook account and was removed hours later, before being re-posted on Twitter Saturday after a play-up from the local media.

Two Philippine opposition lawmakers on Saturday expressed doubts over China’s statement. Senator Risa Hontiveros said it is China’s attempt at a cover-up to shield the involved Chinese crew from any accountability.
Congressman Gary Alejano, a former navy officer, called China’s claims ridiculous, saying Filipinos wouldn’t have dared besiege a Chinese vessel knowing China’s presence in South China Sea.