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Chinese government skeptical over Scarborough fish seizure incident

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FISHERMEN from Masinloc town, who fish at the Scarborough Shoal, and activists carry a wooden fishing boat during a protest outside the Chinese consulate in Manila on July 12, 2016, ahead of a UN tribunal ruling on the legality of China's claims to an area of the South China sea contested by the Philippines. — AFP

The Chinese government on Monday said they are investigating the incident where the Chinese Coast Guard was caught in a video taking the catch of Filipino fishermen in the waters of Scarborough Shoal.

“As to whether the situation mentioned by the media exists or not, the Chinese side is now conducting an investigation seriously. If what the Philippine side claimed is true, I believe relevant Chinese departments will handle that in a serious manner,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a press briefing.
However, Mr. Geng maintained that the Chinese Coast Guard have always acted in accordance with the law, citing its “humanitarian aids” to Filipino fishermen.
“The Chinese coast guards have been safeguarding peace, order and tranquility in relevant waters and offered humanitarian aids to Philippine fishermen for many times.”
The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson added that the China’s fishing provisional agreement with Philippines remained unchanged despite the incident.
“At this point, the China-Philippines friendly relations have taken on a positive trend, and China has a clear and firm determination to commit itself to consolidating and strengthening China-Philippines relations,” he said.
Meanwhile, opposition senators in their independence day message on Tuesday slammed the Duterte administration’s foreign policy on China.
“Ngayong Araw ng Kalayaan, naghahanap ng kasagutan ang mga tanong na ito: Duyan tayo ng magiting, sumpa natin ay hindi tayo pasisiil pero bakit tila alipin umasta sa harap ng China ang mga namumuno?” Senator Francis N. Pangilinan said in a statement.
“Kalayaan ba ang pagkakaroon ng isang gobyernong duwag sa isyu ng pang-aagaw sa ating teritoryo, pero napakatapang naman sa pagbusal sa bibig ng mga kritiko at pagsupil sa malayang pamamahayag,” Senator Leila M. De Lima said in a statement.
Senator Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV warned that China would be emboldened to commit “more abuses” to the country’s territory and citizens if the government continued its “defeatist mentality” on China.
For her part, Senator Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel called for an audit on the government’s current foreign policy so diplomatic actions undertaken by the Philippines against China may be examined. The foreign policy audit would also determine if it was in compliance with international obligations, especially the 2012 arbitration award of the Philippines in South China Sea.
“Amid the timidity, silence and opacity and how government carries its foreign policy work, we need a public participatory and comprehensive assessment of its foreign policy directions and implementation,” she said in a statement. – Camille Aguinaldo