(Agence France Presse) — A gaggle of Filipino fishermen have accused China’s coast guard of capturing at their vessel in disputed South China Sea waters, authorities stated Friday.
Philippine officers stated they had been investigating the reported assault on the Princess Johann boat, which the crew stated occurred close to a Chinese-occupied part of the Spratly archipelago on March 27.
There had been no casualties in the course of 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 assertion stated.
The armed speedboat approached the Filipino vessel after it dropped anchor about three.7 kilometers (two nautical miles) off the Chinese facet of the Union Banks atoll, it stated.
“The crew hid and eventually cut their anchor line and fled the area,” the assertion added.
Representatives on the Chinese embassy couldn’t be reached for remark Friday.
If confirmed the incident can be the primary hostile episode in almost a yr involving the 2 nations, which have seen warming relations since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was elected in mid-2016.
Both the Philippine coast guard and army are investigating the incident.
“(The Union Banks) is located inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone,” army spokesperson Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla stated.
The United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea grants coastal states unique rights to develop and exploit pure assets within the waters that reach as much as 370 kilometers off their coasts.
But China claims most of the South China Sea and lately has been build up disputed reefs into synthetic islands that may home army amenities.
Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam additionally declare the Spratlys both wholly or partly.
Reversing the course set by predecessor Benigno Aquino III, Duterte has sought to enhance his nation’s relations with Beijing by adopting a non-confrontational method over their competing claims within the strategically very important waters.
Since then, Duterte stated China has allowed Filipinos to fish in waters across the Scarborough Shoal, one other outcrop within the South China Sea that Beijing seized in 2012 after a stand-off with the Philippine Navy.