China described the sinking of Philippine vessel by a suspected Chinese trawler as an ordinary maritime accident following Manila’s accusations to Chinese crew’s weakness for abandoning the scene.
The Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) stated that a suspected Chinese vessel had collided with a Philippine boat. This then caused it to sink leaving the 22 crewmen to their fate.
The office of President Rodrigo Duterte described the abandonment of the Filipino crew as “barbaric”. Moreover, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana criticized the act shown by the Chinese trawler.
“We condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly action of the Chinese fishing vessel and its crew for abandoning the Filipino crew,” he said.
For the meantime, neither Beijing nor the Philippines have formally confirmed that the vessel involved in the incident was Chinese-registered.
On Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Geng Shuang, claimed that the incident was only a maritime traffic accident.
On the other hand, he added: “If the relevant reports are true, regardless of the country from which the perpetrator came from, their behavior should be condemned.”
Geng also said that it was unwise for the Philippines to “politicize the incident without verification”.