China’s hostility toward fishermen condemned

China’s hostility toward fishermen condemned

THE PHILIPPINES on Monday condemned the Chinese Coast Guard anew over its latest move to prevent Filipino fishermen from accessing a traditional fishing ground in the South China Sea.

National Security Council spokesman Jonathan E. Malaya said the actions of the Chinese authorities against Filipino fishermen collecting shells near the south entrance of Scarborough Shoal last Jan. 12 were “provocative” and alarming.

“We were hoping that this 2024, the situation in the West Philippine Sea will be much calmer but here we go again, there was another incident where our fishermen were driven away by the China Coast Guard,” he said in a public briefing. “We are worried and we condemn this latest provocative action.”

On Sunday, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) confirmed a report that a China Coast Guard ship deployed a rubber boat to chase a small boat of Filipinos collecting shells in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal, which is well within Manila’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

Citing the account of one of the Filipino fishermen, the PCG said one of the five Chinese personnel forced them to return the shells they had collected to the sea before being allowed to leave.

The fishermen were “subsequently driven away,” PCG spokesman for the West Philippine Sea Jay Tristan Tarriela said in a statement.

The Philippines and China held a bilateral consultation on the South China Sea on Jan. 17, vowing to pursue friendly talks to manage their tensions in one of the world’s most important waterways.

Mr. Tarriela appealed to the Chinese government to complement the agreement with appropriate actions on the ground. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza