MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines on Wednesday expressed solidarity with Vietnam after Hanoi protested what it said was the ramming and sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat by a Chinese coast guard ship in the disputed South China Sea.
The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila expressed deep concern over the reported April 3 sinking of the boat carrying eight fishermen off the Paracel Islands. The incident happened at a time when a common approach was crucial in confronting the coronavirus pandemic, it said.
“COVID-19 is a very real threat that demands unity and mutual trust,” the department said. “In the face of it, neither fish nor fictional historical claims are worth the fuse that’s lit by such incidents.”
China claims virtually the entire South China Sea and has built several islands equipped with military installations in the area, one of world’s busiest shipping lanes. Vietnam has been the most vocal opponent of Beijing’s territorial assertiveness.
The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs recalled that 22 Filipino fishermen were left floating in the high seas after a Chinese vessel sank their boat at Reed Bank on June 9 last year. They were rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel.
Read more: The Star