China defends actions against Philippines

Updated 22 April 2015

China defends actions against Philippines

BEIJING: China on Wednesday defended the actions of its vessels in the disputed South China Sea after the Philippines accused China’s coast guard of using water cannon on Philippine fishing boats and urged Manila to increase its “education” of its fishermen.
Filipino fishermen said that China’s coast guard boarded their fishing boats and threw away fish catch and fishing gear last week after spraying them with water in a disputed shoal in the South China Sea.
The presidential palace in Manila said China’s coast guard used water cannon on Monday to drive away a group of Filipino fishermen at Scarborough Shoal, damaging some of their wooden boats. Chinese ships rammed a fishing boat in the area a few months ago.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei did not directly confirm whether water cannon was used. He said that “official Chinese vessels in waters near the Huangyan island carried out their duties and managed the relevant waters according to law,” using the Chinese name for Scarborough Shoal.
“Recently, many Philippine fishing boats disobeyed China’s administration and gathered illegally in Huangyan Island waters, violating China’s sovereignty and maritime rights and interests,” Hong said.
“We demand that the Philippine side increase its education and control of its fishermen, and cease all behavior that violates China’s sovereignty and rights and interests.”
Philippine and US Marines took part in their biggest combined military exercise in 15 years this week, a demonstration of Washington’s commitment to its longtime ally as it rebalances to Asia.
China claims most of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, with overlapping claims from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, and denies charges its actions in what it says is its own territory are provocative.
Gilbert Baoya, a 58-year-old fisherman from Pangasinan province in the Philippines, told Reuters that armed men from China’s coast guard cut his boat’s ropes, which were tied to the shoal.
“We were terrified,” he said. “We couldn’t do anything.”
China’s coast guard used bull horns to drive the fishermen away, telling them to stop fishing, said Efren Montehermido, a 20-year-old fisherman who showed Reuters a mobile phone video of the water cannon incident on April 13.
Montehermido said fishermen like him had to sneak into the shoal at night and leave in the morning.
“We are like thieves in our own homes,” he said.


Academic freed in Iran ‘blown away’ by support

Updated 01 December 2020

Academic freed in Iran ‘blown away’ by support

SYDNEY: An Australian-British academic released after two years imprisoned in Iran on spying charges said she thanked supporters from the “bottom of my heart” Tuesday, saying they helped her through a “never-ending, unrelenting nightmare.”
In her first statement since arriving back in Australia, Middle East scholar Kylie Moore-Gilbert said she was “totally blown away” by efforts from friends and family to secure her release.
“I honestly have no words to express the depth of my gratitude and how touched I am,” the 33-year-old said.
“It gave me so much hope and strength to endure what had seemed like a never-ending, unrelenting nightmare. My freedom truly is your victory. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!“
Moore-Gilbert was released last week in a swap for three Iranians linked to a botched plot to kill Israeli officials in Bangkok.
She was arrested by Iran’s hard-line Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in 2018, after attending an academic conference in the holy city of Qom in central Iran.
She was later charged with espionage and sentenced to 10 years in jail, allegations she has denied.
arb/mtp