China ‘shocked’ by PH boat collision, opposes ‘politicization’ of incident

Sofia Tomacruz

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China ‘shocked’ by PH boat collision, opposes ‘politicization’ of incident
'Our thoughts and prayers go out to the missing crew members and passengers. We sincerely hope all of them could be rescued at the earliest,' says the China embassy in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – China on Tuesday, June 30, called the recent collision involving a Philippine fishing boat and a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship a “tragic incident” as it urged parties to refrain from politicizing the incident.  

In a statement on Tuesday night, China also offered sympathies for the 14 Filipinos who remained missing since their boat capsized off the coast of Mindoro.   

“The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines is shocked and saddened at the collision of a Philippine fishing boat with a Hong Kong-flagged cargo vessel at midnight of June 27, 2020. This is a tragic incident,” China said in the statement. 

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the missing crew members and passengers. We sincerely hope all of them could be rescued at the earliest,” it added. 

China likewise said it “took note” that Philippine agencies were investigating the collision, adding it was “ready to render any necessary assistance.”

China then called for sobriety, saying “top priority” should be given to the rescue of the missing Filipino crew. (READ: Banggaan lang’: Palace doubts PH boat collision with HK ship to hurt China ties)

What happened? At 10:20 pm on Saturday, June 27, Philippine fishing boat Liberty 5 collided with the Hong Kong-flagged Vienna Wood which was reported to have been sailing from Subic to Australia.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) initially reported the incident took place around 1 am on Sunday, June 28, but it was the Vienna Wood’s distress call – sent through email – that was received by the PCG command center more than 3 hours later at 1:46 am of Sunday.

The collision left the Liberty Cinco in pieces, with the boat’s capsized hull spotted at around 10 am Sunday. There were no signs of the 12 fishing crew and two other Irma employees who had been onboard the fishing boat. 

The Philippine Coast Guard is still searching for the missing Filipinos.

The collision took place a year after a Chinese boat sank and abandoned Philippine fishing boat Gem-Ver while it was anchored at Recto Bank (Reed Bank) off Palawan. 

The unprecedented event had sparked a fierce outcry from the Philippines over China’s handling of the issue in the wake of the sinking, where it claimed the Chinese ship was “besieged” by Philippine boats but later omitted this in succeeding statements. 

It also elicited wide backlash over China’s aggressive tactics in the South China Sea, and President Rodrigo Duterte’s policy towards the West Philippine Sea.  

This was not lost on China, who urged parties involved to avoid politicizing the recent collision. It also “noted” recent reports on the Gem-Ver fishermen who had yet to be compensated for their losses over a year since the sinking occurred. (READ: A year later, Gem-Ver fishermen still unpaid by Chinese ship owner)

“China has been working closely with the Philippine side to solve the case. The concerned Chinese fishing association has already offered a compensation proposal to the Philippine side and has been waiting for formal feedback from the latter,” it said. (READ: Duterte officials finally aid Gem-Ver fishermen vs Chinese ship owner)

“In the spirit of cooperation and friendship, we believe the incident will be solved in a proper manner,” it added. –

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.