China "Coast Guard" vessel runs down Vietnamese fishing boat. China claims fishing boat attacked the "Coast Guard" vessel, as reporte in Philippines backs Vietnam after China sinks fishing boat
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.This is not the way civilized countries act, China. This is the way bullies act.
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.
The Philippines warned that incidents like the sinking of the Vietnamese boat undermine the potential for a trusting relationship between the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China. It cited “positive momentum” in talks between ASEAN and China on a proposed “code of conduct” — a pact to prevent major clashes in the South China Sea, which many fear could be Asia’s next flashpoint.
China responded to Vietnam's diplomatic protest and demands for an investigation with its own statement accusing the Vietnamese boat of illegally entering Chinese waters. It said it collided with the Chinese ship Haijing 4301 after conducting “dangerous actions.”
All eight Vietnamese sailors were rescued by the Chinese and admitted to wrongdoing, China Maritime Police spokesman Zhang Jun was quoted as saying in a statement.
China seized the islands from Vietnam in 1974 and frequent confrontations have occurred there.