Boat sinking ‘signals new offensive’ by China, says Filipino judge

Philippine Navy helicopters and assault vessels simulate a rescue operation during the 120th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Navy, in this fiel photo taken May 22, 2018 in suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines. (AP)
Updated 16 June 2019
0

Boat sinking ‘signals new offensive’ by China, says Filipino judge

  • Carpio warned that the incident “may signal the start of a new ‘gray zone’ offensive by China to drive away Filipino fishing vessels in the West Philippines Sea

MANILA: A leading Philippines judge has described the sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel as a “quantum escalation” of Beijing’s aggression in the South China Sea.
Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio late on Friday said it was highly likely a Chinese maritime militia vessel had rammed the Filipino fishing boat F/B Gimver 1 on June 9 in Recto Bank.
Carpio warned that the incident “may signal the start of a new ‘gray zone’ offensive by China to drive away Filipino fishing vessels in the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea) in the same way that the Chinese are driving away Vietnamese fishing vessels in the Paracel Islands.”
“The Filipino people must send a strong signal to China that any new ‘grey zone’ offensive of ramming Filipino fishing vessels in the West Philippines Sea will mean a break of diplomatic ties with China,” he said.
The Philippines must take a strong stand against China’s latest aggressive act and demand compensation for the owner of the fishing vessel as well as punishment for the captain and crew of the Chinese vessel, he said.

Carpio said that Chinese maritime militia vessels were built with reinforced steel hulls purposely for ramming fishing boats of other coastal states.
“No other coastal state has fishing vessels designed for ramming other fishing vessels. Captains of ordinary Chinese fishing vessels do not engage in ramming for fear of damaging their own vessels,” he said.
The captain and crew of the Filipino boat have claimed that a Chinese fishing vessel rammed their boat. Reports also quoted the rescued crew as saying that their boat had its lights on when it was struck.
“It was around midnight. We were anchored and were showing a lot of white (bright) lights to signal our position when a ship suddenly appeared out of nowhere and hit us. I was trying to start our engine when we were hit in the stern,” Junel Insigne, the boat’s captain, said.
“After the ramming, they returned and turned their lights on us to make sure that our boat was submerged before they left.”
Carpio said that the ramming of the Filipino boat was a violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“China’s maritime militia vessels have been ramming Vietnamese vessels in the Paracels for several years now. However, this is the first time a Chinese maritime militia vessel has rammed a Filipino fishing boat,” he said.
The Chinese embassy in Manila on Friday admitted that a Chinese fishing vessel had been involved in the incident. In a statement posted on its official Twitter account, the embassy identified the vessel as Yuemaobinyu 42212 from Guangdong Province.
However, it claimed the boat was “berthed” in the area when it was “besieged” by seven or eight Filipino fishing boats.
The Chinese captain “tried to rescue the Filipino fishermen, but was afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats,” it said.
The embassy added that the Chinese vessel sailed away from the scene only after confirming that “the fishermen from the Filipino boat were rescued and on board other Filipino fishing boats.”
“There was no such thing as a hit-and-run,” it said.


Afghans react angrily to Trump’s boast that the US could ‘wipe Afghanistan off the face of the Earth’

Updated 24 July 2019
0

Afghans react angrily to Trump’s boast that the US could ‘wipe Afghanistan off the face of the Earth’

  • Trump made his remarks at the White House ahead of a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan
  • “I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people,” Trump tells Pakistani PM

KABUL: The Afghan government demanded clarification from Washington on Tuesday after President Donald Trump said that the country “would be wiped off the face of the Earth” if he decided to win the conflict there.

Trump made his remarks at the White House ahead of a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday in which he sought to mend ties with Islamabad and seek its help to end the war in Afghanistan, the longest and most unpopular conflict in US history.

“I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people,” Trump said, referring to what he claimed were prepared military plans in Afghanistan.

“If I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth, it would be gone, it would be over in literally 10 days.”

The US leader’s comments could be a blow for President Ashraf Ghani’s government, which signed a security pact with Washington in late 2014 allowing US-led troops to stay in Afghanistan and, in 2017, hailed the US after it dropped the world’s largest non-nuclear bomb in the east of the country.

Trump’s remarks come amid rising violence in Afghanistan, which has claimed the lives of hundreds of Taliban, government troops and civilians in recent months. Many Afghans are asking why the world’s leading superpower has failed to defeat the insurgents 18 years after the ouster of the Taliban regime.

"Trump’s comments highlight Washington’s failure to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan” 

Political analyst Wahidullah Ghazikhail

The Afghan government, which relies heavily on US troops and funding in the war against the Taliban, has sought official clarification over Trump’s comments.

“Our partnership and cooperation with the world, and in particular with the US, is based on mutual interest and respect,” a statement issued by the presidential palace said on Tuesday.  

“The Afghan nation has never allowed and will not permit any foreign power to choose its destiny,” it added.

Many Afghans, including former government officials, reacted angrily to Trump’s comments.

Rahmatullah Nabil, a presidential candidate who served as Afghanistan’s spy chief, said in a tweet that Trump’s comments should prompt Afghan leaders to set aside their differences.

“In reply to the insults of #Afg by @realDonalTrump, all Afg politicians, including Ashraf Ghani and Taliban leaders, should drop their selfishness and announce that we will make peace among ourselves & there is no need for mediation for US/Pak,” he said.

Modaser Islami, a leading Afghan religious scholar, said that Trump’s remarks showed “hostility toward Afghans” and questioned if Trump was “fighting the Taliban, as terrorists or as Afghans? His recent remarks show he is enemy of latter.”

Veteran journalist Bilal Sarwary described the comments as “offensive, stupid and arrogant,” while another senior journalist called the remarks an “insult to the entire Afghan nation.”

Political analyst Wahidullah Ghazikhail told Arab News that Trump’s comments “highlight Washington’s failure to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan.” 

“Obviously, the US wants to strike a deal with the Taliban and Pakistan’s role is key in the peace process,” he said.