Philippines must hand boats back to China, says FM

Updated: 2011-10-21 09:55

(China Daily)

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BEIJING - China on Thursday demanded the Philippines return Chinese boats promptly and unconditionally after a Philippine warship confronted a Chinese fishing boat.

"China has presented its stance to the Philippines. We demand that the Philippines return the small Chinese boats unconditionally and as soon as possible, and properly handle related issues," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a daily news conference.

On Tuesday, a Philippine military vessel entered the sea area neighboring Liyue Tan, also known as the Reed Bank, of the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea and tried to approach a Chinese fishing boat towing 25 smaller, unoccupied boats, Jiang said.

Philippines must hand boats back to China, says FM

The propeller of the Philippine vessel got tangled with the rope, disconnecting the Chinese fishing vessel from the 25 smaller boats.

"The Chinese fishermen and the fishing vessel are currently safe," Jiang said.

She said China has undisputed sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and the neighboring sea.

"It is completely justified for Chinese fishermen to fish in areas where generations of Chinese have fished," Jiang said.

Jiang said the Philippines' behavior impinged upon the legitimate rights of Chinese fishermen.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the government would not apologize to China, according to Reuters.

"No apologies were necessary and none was given," he said in a text message to reporters.