The headquarters of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs. CNN Photo
HÀ NỘI — The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday issued a statement expressing deep concern over a Chinese coast guard ship hitting and sinking a Vietnamese fishing vessel in the East Sea.
The statement said the Philippines’ own experience revealed how much trust in a friendship is lost by such acts.
The DFA said it valued the maintenance of peace and stability in the East Sea and noted such incidents undermined the potential of a genuinely deep and trusting regional relationship between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China.
Given positive momentum on discussions for a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC), it was crucial to avoid such incidents and address differences in a manner that would enhance dialogue and mutual trust, it said.
"There is never a good time to indulge in provocations," the DFA said, adding that the continued strengthening of regional relations was especially critical in light of the ASEAN-China joint commitment to collectively tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DFA recalled Việt Nam’s humanitarian acts of saving the lives of Filipino fishermen, stressing that it created much trust.
“We have not stopped and will not stop thanking Viet Nam. It is with that in mind that we issue this statement of solidarity,” the DFA said.
The Vietnamese vessel with eight fishermen on board was fishing near Phú Lâm island of the Hoàng Sa (Paracel) archipelago on April 2 when a China coast guard ship hit and sank it.
While answering reporters’ queries about the incident, spokeswoman of the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry Lê Thị Thu Hằng said on April 3 that "Việt Nam has sufficient legal grounds and historical evidence affirming its sovereignty over Hoàng Sa (Paracel) and Trường Sa (Spratly) archipelagos in accordance with international law".
"Such an act by the Chinese coast guard ship violates Việt Nam’s sovereignty over the Paracel Islands and threatens the lives and legitimate interests of Vietnamese fishermen," she said.
"It also went against the common perception of senior leaders of the two countries on the humane treatment of fishermen and the Việt Nam-China agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of maritime issues, and is contrary to the spirit of the Declaration of Conduct of the Parties in the East Sea (DOC), complicating the situation and being unconducive to bilateral relations as well as the maintenance of peace, stability and co-operation in the East Sea." — VNS