THE Philippines said yesterday a Chinese fishing vessel had intruded into its territorial waters, explaining why a Philippine navy ship “accidentally” collided with a dinghy the Chinese boat was towing.
A Philippine navy boat was on patrol in the Reed Bank when it spotted a Chinese fishing vessel towing 35 smaller boats. When it tried to challenged the fishing vessel, it hit one of the dinghies.
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the government would not apologise to China.
“No apologies were necessary and none was given,” del Rosario said in a text message to reporters.
A defence department spokesman had said earlier the navy had apologised to China to avoid creating tension in the area.
China, Taiwan and four Southeast Asian states, including the Philippines, have conflicting claims over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, an area believed to have rich deposits of oil and gas. It is also a rich fishing ground.