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US politicizes boat accident

Global Times

By Sun Haoran Source:Global Times Published: 2019/6/17 22:28:40

China to increase trust with Philippines: FM

Irresponsible remarks from the US on the accidental collision between Chinese and Filipino fishing boats revealed its intention to damage China's relations with countries in the South China Sea area and destabilize the Asia-Pacific region, Chinese experts said Monday.

US Ambassador to Manila Sung Kim said in an interview Friday night that the so-called collision of fishing boats between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea may trigger the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) of the US and the Philippines, the Philippine Star reported on Sunday.

The US exaggerated the collision since it remains questionable whether the South China Sea is included in the defense area of the US-Philippine MDT, Chen Xiangmiao, a research fellow at the Hainan-based National Institute for the South China Sea, told the Global Times on Monday.

"Kim's remarks were also arbitrary since the collision was merely an accident between fishermen, with no military attacks involved, and it remains under investigation," Chen said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at Monday's press briefing that China expressed sympathy and solicitude for the Philippine fishermen who were in danger during the accident, and will continue to investigate the event in a comprehensive, conscientious and highly responsible manner.

China is also willing to strengthen communication with the Philippines, increase trust and dispel doubts between them, exchange investigations, and find out the cause of the accident, Lu said.

"Either linking such an accident to the relations of the two countries and the friendship of the two peoples or politicizing it is inappropriate. The Chinese side attaches great importance to the maritime security and is willing to strengthen cooperation with neighboring countries in the region, Lu stressed.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila denied that there was a "hit-and-run" during the so-called collision through an announcement released on its website on Saturday.

China's preliminary investigation shows that on June 9, Yuemaobinyu 42212, a Chinese fishing boat from Guangdong Province, engaged in a light purse seine operation, was berthed in the vicinity of Liyue Tan of the Nansha Islands. It was suddenly besieged by seven or eight Philippine fishing boats.

During the evacuation, the 42212 failed to shun a Philippine fishing boat, and its steel cable on the lighting grid of larboard bumped into the Filipino pilothouse. The Philippine fishing boat tilted and its stern foundered.

The Chinese captain tried to rescue the Filipino fishermen, but was afraid of being besieged by other Philippine fishing boats, the embassy said. Having confirmed that the fishermen were rescued on board other Philippine fishing boats, 42212 sailed away, it added.

"By increasing its presence in the South China Sea, the US was trying to provoke conflicts between China and the countries in the region and jeopardize stability in the Asia-Pacific," Chen said.

The US Department of Defense announced on May 31 that it would sell 34 Boeing-made ScanEagle surveillance drones worth $47 million to US allies Malaysia and Indonesia, which showed the US goal of containing China.

Analysts said the sale would bind these countries to the US as buying US equipment always comes as a whole package, including support equipment and technical services. The information gathered by those countries through the US drones could also be used by the US.

"China should establish a crisis management mechanism with the countries in the South China Sea region to increase mutual trust and transparency," Chen noted.

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