China defends use of water cannons vs PH fishermen
MANILA, Philippines — China defended the Chinese Coast Guard’s (CCG) use of water cannons to drive away Filipino fishermen from the disputed Bajo de Masinloc (Panatag or Scarborough Shoal) and accused the Philippines of “making new troubles.”
“The Chinese government vessels deal with activities by foreign vessels in these waters within a justifiable and reasonable scope,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hua Chunying said in a press conference after the Philippines filed a protest with the Chinese Embassy last Tuesday.
“Meanwhile, China has to make necessary reactions to the provocation from relevant countries. We urge the Philippine side to truly respect China’s sovereignty and not to make new troubles,” she said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) sent its written protest to the Charge d’Affaires of the Chinese Embassy Tuesday after the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) disclosed that Filipino fishermen were driven away from Bajo de Masinloc by CCG vessels last Jan. 27.
“The Chinese vessel continuously blew its horn and doused the fishing vessel for several minutes,” DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez told reporters in a press conference Tuesday.
“The DFA also received information that about nine similar reports of harassment incidents of Filipino fishermen were committed by Chinese civilian maritime law enforcement agency (CMLEA) vessels last year,” he said.
China has rejected the protest of the Philippines saying the shoal is part of its territory and that CCG “are on duty in waters off the Hainan Island to uphold China’s sovereignty and maintain order in the waters in accordance with law.”
The disputed shoal is 220 kilometers off the coast of Zambales province in Luzon and within the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) stated under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The nearest Chinese landmass to the shoal is Hainan province which is 650 kilometers away.
China claims the entire South China Sea including the entire western seaboard of the country from the province of Ilocos Norte to Palawan through its “nine-dash line” claim.
Chinese and Philippine ships were in a standoff last 2012 after Chinese fishing ships were found illegally poaching endangered and endemic Philippine marine species in the shoal.
Filipino authorities were blocked by the CCG from apprehending the Chinese fishermen.
The Philippines has filed a case before the United Nations permanent court of arbitration to rule on the territorial dispute.
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