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By Roy Mabasa

There is no such thing as “hit and run” regarding the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat off the Recto Bank or Reed Bank on June 9, the Chinese government said on Friday.

In a statement released through its Embassy in Manila, the Chinese government said their preliminary investigation showed that “Yuemaobinyu 42212”, a Chinese fishing vessel from Guangdong Province, was engaged in a “light pursue seine operation” and was berthed at the vicinity of Reed Bank (Liyue Tan in Chinese) at midnight of June 9.

“It was suddenly besieged by 7 or 8 Filipino fishing boats. During the evacuation, 42212 failed to shun a Filipino fishing boat, and its steel cable on the lighting grid of larboard bumped into the Filipino pilothouse. The Filipino fishing boat tilted and its stern foundered,” the government in Beijing said in the statement.

Citing the results of their initial probe, it said the Chinese captain tried to rescue the Filipino fishermen but was “afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats” that were in the vicinity at the time of the incident.

“Therefore, having confirmed the fishermen from the Filipino boat were rescued on board of other Filipino fishing boats, 42212 (Chinese fishing vessel) sailed away from the scene. The above shows that there is no such thing as “hit-and-run,” it said.

The Chinese government stressed that it attaches great importance to China-Philippines friendship and safety of life at sea, and “will continue to properly handle this issue with the Philippines in a serious and responsible manner.”

“The two sides are maintaining close communication through diplomatic channels,” it said.