The Chinese embassy on Friday completely denied responsibility for the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat in the disputed Reed Bank last week, claiming instead that the Chinese vessel involved was “besieged” by smaller Filipino fishing boats.
In a statement released following the reported filing of a diplomatic protest over the incident by the Philippine government, Beijing insisted that the Chinese vessel was the one that was besieged by seven or eight Filipino vessels.
The statement said that the Chinese vessel Yuemaobinyu 42212 originating from Guangdong and involved in a purse seine fishing operation was berthed at the area when 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 bumbed into the Filipino pilothouse. The Filipino fishing boat tilted and its stern foundered,” it said.
The statement did not explain whether the Chinese vessel deliberately ram FV Gem-vir in self defense or while supposedly trying to flee, but insisted “there was no such thing as hit-and run.”
It added that the Chinese captain “tried to rescue the Filipino fishermen but was afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats” and just sailed away.
The Philippine government has yet to issue its formal reaction to the statement, having said it is still completing its own investigation on the incident through the Western Command.
A published report by Rappler from Occidental Mindoro, meanwhile, has quoted the local boat Gem-vir’s captain denying China’s claim that they were the ones who instigated an attack and that the Chinese boat initially tried to rescue them after they sunk.
“Kami-kami lang nandoon. Kami-kami lang. Wala namang ibang bangka doon,” the Rappler report on Friday quoted boat captain Junel Insigne as saying.
“Talagang binangga nila kami…tumakbo sila palayo, pinatay pa ang ilaw para hindi makilala, para hindi makita,” he added.
The Western Command has yet to issue a statement on the result of its investigation.