La leçon chinoise aux journalistes philippins

Voila maintenant que l'attaché militaire auprès de l'Ambassade de Chine à Manille donne des leçons de journalisme aux médias philippins. Quand on sait comment est traitée la liberté de la presse en Chine, il y a de quoi se poser des questions.

Ce sont 92 bateaux chinois qui se trouvent maintenant sur le Scarborough Schoal.

A diplomat from a country not exactly known for promoting press freedom on Tuesday gave Filipino reporters a lecture on how to report the news.

The diplomat, Senior Col. Chen Fangming, defense attaché of the Chinese Embassy, went to the extent of asking the reporters whether they studied journalism.

Chen gave his lesson on reporting right inside the Philippine Navy headquarters when he was interviewed on the occasion of the Navy’s 114th anniversary rites. Chen was among the foreign military guests invited to the affair.

The Chinese diplomat was asked about the Philippine-Chinese standoff in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, where China has deployed since last month two surveillance vessels and its most modern maritime ship, the FLEC 310.

The Philippine Coast Guard has only one vessel in the area, along with a Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources ship.

‘We are neighbors’

Chen denied a news report that five Chinese warships had been sent close to the Philippines. “No, because we believe Philippines, our neighbor, (is our) brother,” he said.
He said he did not know about Chinese maritime ships barring Filipino fishermen from the lagoon.
“That is again (a) fabricated story by some mass media, so that is what we can say, right?,” he said.

When told that a television crew recently went to the shoal with some fishermen but that they were driven away by Chinese ships, Chen said: “We have a spokesman from our embassy.”

Getting the truth

Asked how the territorial dispute could be resolved diplomatically, he replied: “You said diplomatic. That is a key here and your minister of foreign affairs is talking to our ambassador here.”

92 bateaux maintenant !

Foule et embouteillage à Panatag !

There are now 92 Chinese ships at Panatag.

The Philippines accused China on Wednesday of flaring tensions anew by sending more government and fishing vessels to Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal despite ongoing talks to resolve the two-month-old standoff.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Raul Hernandez said the number of Chinese vessels at Scarborough Shoal increased to 92 from 77 on Tuesday. They included four government ships and fishing and utility boats.

Hernandez said the Philippines had only two vessels in the area, which both countries claim.
Hernandez said the DFA handed Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing a diplomatic note on Monday to protest the presence on that day of 77 Chinese vessels—five government ships, 16 fishing boats and 56 dinghies used to load fish or corals.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Hong Lei, on Wednesday said that nearly 100 Chinese boats or dinghies arrived at the shoal.

“The Philippine side has recently taken some provocative actions in the Huangyan Island waters, thus the Chinese side has adopted corresponding measures to strengthen management and control,” Hong said, using China’s name for Scarborough Shoal.

“To our knowledge, now there are about 20 Chinese fishing boats working in that area. This number is roughly the same with that in the same period of the previous years,” Hong said.
“The way these fishing boats are working complies with the related Chinese laws and the fishing moratorium issued by the Chinese government,” he added.

Hernandez said that despite China’s fishing ban, Chinese vessels were observed fishing and collecting protected corals at the shoal.

The Philippines has separately imposed its own ban on fishing in the area.

Seventh protest
Hernandez said the Philippines had filed a seventh diplomatic protest because of China’s sending more vessels to the shoal despite ongoing talks to resolve the dispute.

He said that at around 7 p.m. on Monday, there were five Chinese government vessels (CMS 71, CMS 84, FLEC 301, 303 and 310) in the area, which were accompanied by 16 fishing boats (10 inside the lagoon and six outside), and 56 utility boats (27 inside the lagoon and 29 outside).

“Yesterday (Tuesday), there were still 16 Chinese fishing vessels and the number of utility boats went up to 76,” Hernandez said.

He explained that utility boats were dinghies that helped the fishing boats collect their harvest of giant clams and corals by dredging.

Pullout demanded
Manila demanded an immediate pullout of the vessels, saying they violate Philippine sovereignty and a nonbinding Declaration of Conduct on the South China Sea signed by China and Southeast Asian Countries.

“It is regrettable that these actions occurred at a time when China has been articulating for a deescalation of tensions and while the two sides have been discussing how to defuse the situation in the area,” Hernandez added.

Both sides claim the uninhabited, horseshoe-shaped shoal, which is 230 kilometers (124 nautical miles) from Zambales province, the nearest Philippine coast.

Hernandez said the Philippines remained committed to defusing the tensions in the area.
He said  Assistant Foreign Secretary for Asia-Pacific Affairs Teresa Lazaro and Ambassador Ma were discussing the dispute in Manila while similar talks were going on in Beijing.

The Philippines is also taking the dispute to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (Itlos), but China rejects international arbitration.

China also opposes the intervention of other countries in its territorial dispute with the Philippines.

“The Philippines’ attempt to draw any third party into interfering or intervening through whatever means in the incident is bound to further escalate the situation or even change the nature of the issue and will meet steadfast opposition from the Chinese side,” Hong said.

Hong was referring to Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario’s earlier statement that some countries were helping the Philippines establish a “minimum credible defense posture” by providing the country with patrol boats and military aircraft to complement its diplomatic initiative in dealing with China.

According to Hong, “the Chinese side has been actively engaged in diplomatic consultation to urge the Philippine side to correct its wrongdoing and ease the situation, for the sake of normal growth of bilateral relations.”

“China’s principles and stance over the Huangyan Island issue are clear-cut,” Hong said. “Huangyan Island has always been China’s territory, and China possesses indisputable sovereignty over the island. 

The Philippine side should concretely respect China’s territorial sovereignty. At the same time, China’s position of committing to diplomatic consultation to address the current situation remains unchanged.”

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