• ‘China fired at us’ – Filipino fishers


    A group of Filipino fishermen has accused China’s coast guard of shooting at their vessel in disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) waters, Philippine authorities said Friday.

    Philippine officials said they were investigating the reported attack on the Princess Johann boat, which the crew said occurred near a Chinese-occupied section of the Kalayaan (Spratly) archipelago on March 27.

    There were no casualties during the incident, authorities added.

    “(Princess Johann) was reportedly fired upon seven times by a Chinese speedboat with seven Chinese coast guards on board,” a Philippine Coast Guard statement said.

    The armed speedboat approached the Filipino vessel after it dropped anchor about 3.7 kilometers (2 nautical miles) off the Chinese side of the Union Banks atoll, it said.

    “The crew hid and eventually cut their anchor line and fled the area,” the statement added.

    Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters at a regular briefing that Beijing had “no information” on the matter.

    If confirmed the incident would be the first hostile episode in nearly a year involving the two countries, which have seen warming relations since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was elected in mid-2016.

    Both the Philippine coast guard and military are investigating the incident.

    “(The Union Banks) is located inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone,” military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said.

    The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea grants coastal states exclusive rights to develop and exploit natural resources in the waters that extend up to 370 kilometers off their coasts.

    But China claims most of the South China Sea and in recent years has been building up disputed reefs into artificial islands that can house military facilities.

    Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim the Spratlys either wholly or in part.

    Reversing the course set by predecessor Benigno Aquino, Duterte has sought to improve his nation’s relations with Beijing by adopting a non-confrontational approach over their competing claims in the strategically vital waters.

    Since then, Duterte said China has allowed Filipinos to fish in waters around the Panatag (Scarborough Shoal), another outcrop in the South China Sea that Beijing seized in 2012 after a stand-off with the Philippine Navy.


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    1. Maybe the Chinese used blank cartridges? Remember it was the chinese who invented the firecracker, extensively used during the Boxer Rebellion to scare foreigners away. .Unfortunately, the plan “back-fired”” on them (no pun intended), and the Empress Dowager capitulated to the foreigners who wanted to forcibly open up the vast chinese market…

    2. As usual, our government shall only investigate as if the fishermen are lying? Assuming it’s true, what can we do? Blame the Chinks’ bullying to Duterte’s over friendliness to China.

    3. vagoneto rieles on

      This is one incident that the present administration would like to bury, or, in any event, not talk about. It just highlights the fact that the Chinese firmly controls the Spratlys; and, not the Philippines, to which the International Court of Arbitration had assigned this chain of Islands. It also invites curiosity…and answers…from the public on how these shoals and sandbars ended up with the Chinese.
      This is a topic that the administration has, so far, been very vague about, or, had just been glossing over.

    4. No purpose of PCG or military doing any investigation. Both are worthless and too busy hiding in fear chink incursion. A nation that does not defend or do not want to defend its territorial sovereignity is not independent nation but a province for the taking. The chinks are not going to attack the PH, hell they too smart and will just muscle in and take over, while PH will stick its head in the sand and pray that the chinks will go away somewhere else. Pitiful!