June 15, 2019 – China on Friday denied one of its vessels abandoned 22 Filipino fisherman after hitting and sinking their fishing boat in the disputed waters of the West Philippine Sea.
In a statement reposted Saturday morning, the Chinese embassy claimed that the vessel, Yuemaobinyu 42212, was “besieged” by several Filipino fishing boats along Recto Bank when its steel cable bumped into the F/B GEM-VIR1 which caused it to tilt and sink.
“A Chinese fishing boat from Guangdong Province, China, engaged in a light purse seine operation, was berthed at the vicinity of Liyue Tan (Reed Bank) (116 40 ‘E, 35’N) of Nansha Quandao,” the statement reads.
“It was suddenly besieged by 7 or 8 Filipino fishing boats during evacuation, 42212 failed to shun a Filipino fishing boat and its steel cable on the lighting grid of larboard bumped into the Filipino pilothouse. The Filipino fishing boat tilted and its stern foundered,” it added.
Citing the result of its preliminary investigation, the Chinese embassy maintained that there is no “hit-and-run” incident.
The statement said that the captain of Yuemaobinyu 42212 even tried to help rescue the Filipino Fisherman but was afraid of being “beseiged” by other Filipino fishing boats in the area.
“Having confirmed the fishermen from the Filipino boat were rescued on board of other Filipino fishing boats, 42212 sailed away from the scene,” it said.
“The Chinese side attaches great importance to China-Philippines friendship and safety of life at sea, and will continue to properly handle this issue with the Philippines in a serious and responsible manner,” it added.
The Philippines already filed a diplomatic protest to condemn the incident.
Survivors of the F/B GEM-VIR1 confirmed that it was a Chinese vessel that sank their boat close to midnight last Sunday, which coincided with the celebration of the Filipino-Chinese Friendship Day.