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People's Daily Online>>Foreign Affairs

Xinhua Insight: Chinese fishermen recall clash with Philippine Navy

(Xinhua)

08:58, April 18, 2012

Xu Detan (R), captain of one fishing boat seeking refuge from bad weather at a lagoon off the Huangyan Island days ago, receives interview from Xinhua News Agency in Qionghai City, south China's Hainan Province, April 15, 2012. All 12 Chinese fishing vessels, which had sought refuge from bad weather at a lagoon off the Huangyan Island but were blocked the entrance of the lagoon by a warship of the Philippines on April 8, left the lagoon in Huangyan Island on Saturday after a five-day stalemate. One fishing boat has safely returned to Qionghai of south China's Hainan Province. (Xinhua/Guo Cheng)

HAIKOU, April 17 (Xinhua) -- One of 12 Chinese fishing boats returned to port Saturday evening after a recent encounter with the Philippine Navy in the South China Sea.

On April 10, twelve fishing boats were harassed by a Philippine Navy gunboat while taking refuge from harsh weather in a lagoon near China's Huangyan Island. Two Chinese Marine Surveillance ships conducting routine patrols in the area later came to the fishermen's rescue.

The incident is just the latest case in a string of incidents in which Chinese fishermen have been harassed by the Philippine military, with hundreds of fishermen in south China's Hainan province having had encounters with Philippine officers.

HUMILIATING MEMORIES

At dawn on April 10, Xu Detan, captain of the Qiong-Qionghai 09099, a Hainan-registered fishing boat, saw a gunboat speeding into the lagoon. He then heard someone speaking in Filipino through his ship's shortwave radio and realized they couldn't run away from the Philippine Navy.

"Their gunboat blocked the entrance of the lagoon. We tried to escape, but we couldn't move. They were armed with guns and we could only wait," said Xu.

Xu said the Philippine gunboat began to search the fishing boats one by one at 6 a.m. At about 8:30 a.m., nine Philippine soldiers boarded his boat.

Xu said the soldiers turned off his ship's satellite navigation system and radio communication equipment while on board.

They asked Xu and four crew members to stand on the ship's bow and took photos of the fishermen. The photos were published online and used as evidence that the Chinese fishermen were illegally fishing.

The searches and photography didn't stop until 11 a.m., said Xu.

Almost twelve hours later, the two Chinese military vessels discovered their predicament and came to protect them from the Philippine gunship.

The crew of the Qiong-Qionghai 09099 subsequently decided to suspend their planned 50-day voyage on its 25th day.

"We came back in a rush because were were scared and wanted to go back to rest," Xu said.

Xu said it was the first time for him to encounter such a situation since beginning his fishing career 30 years ago. However, he said some of his friends have been detained by Philippine military officers multiple times.

As the captain of the boat, Xu is responsible for his crew and their safety. However, the 55-year-old captain said he wouldn't be able to withstand the suffering if he were detained by the Philippine Navy.

"I was so scared when I thought that I might not see my family again, especially my eight-month-old grandson," Xu said.

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