Philippines' Duterte accepts China's proposal to jointly investigate collision

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted China's proposal to jointly investigate allegations that a Chinese fishing vessel abandoned 22 Filipinos after it sank their boat in the South China Sea, his spokesman said on Saturday. But aside from China and the Philippines, Duterte wants a third country to be included in the joint investigating committee that will be created to determine what really transpired in the Reed Bank, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

Reuters June 22, 2019 07:05:44 IST
Philippines' Duterte accepts China's proposal to jointly investigate collision

Philippines Duterte accepts Chinas proposal to jointly investigate collision

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted China's proposal to jointly investigate allegations that a Chinese fishing vessel abandoned 22 Filipinos after it sank their boat in the South China Sea, his spokesman said on Saturday.

But aside from China and the Philippines, Duterte wants a third country to be included in the joint investigating committee that will be created to determine what really transpired in the Reed Bank, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

"We are by no means relinquishing any inch of our sovereign rights, nor compromising the rights of our 22 fishermen. We are demanding justice for our countrymen, and we are using all legal means toward that end," Panelo said in a statement.

Critics have accused Duterte of toeing China's line rather than taking a stand in defence of his country's fishermen and its sovereign rights after he described the sinking as a "little maritime accident".

Duterte's defence minister, navy chief and spokesman have publicly denounced the Chinese crew. His foreign minister, Teodoro Locsin had lodged a protest with Beijing and in a tweet on Friday rejected the idea of a joint investigation.

The issue could complicate what are determined efforts by Duterte to build a strong relationship with China, despite deep mistrust among his U.S.-allied defence apparatus, which remains wary about China's maritime militarization and what it sees as bullying and denial of Manila's access to its own offshore oil and gas reserves.

The sinking took place on June 9 near the Reed Bank, the site of untapped gas deposits that an international arbitration court in 2016 ruled the Philippines had sovereign rights to exploit. Beijing disputes that.

China's embassy in Manila has said the crew had sought to rescue the Filipino fishermen but fled after being "suddenly besieged by seven or eight Filipino fishing boats".

"A joint and impartial investigation will not only promote the expedient resolution of the issue, it will also be in accordance with international law ... which places paramount emphasis on the use of peaceful means to resolve international disputes", Panelo said.

(Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Sandra Maler)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.