Philippines backs Vietnam after China sinks fishing boat

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FILE – In this April 12, 2018, file photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, the Liaoning aircraft carrier is accompanied by navy frigates and submarines conducting an exercises in the South China Sea. Despite the coronavirus outbreak, China is keeping up with military exercises around Taiwan at the northern edge of the South China Sea. (Li Gang/Xinhua via AP, File)

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines has expressed solidarity with Vietnam after Hanoi protested what it says was the ramming and sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat by a Chinese coast guard ship in the disputed South China Sea.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila expressed deep concern over the reported April 3 sinking of the boat carrying eight fishermen off the Paracel Islands.

It says the incident happened at a time when common approach was crucial in confronting the virus pandemic.

China claims virtually the entire South China Sea and has built several islands equipped with military installations in the area, one of world’s busiest shipping lanes.

China’s smaller neighbors, particularly Vietnam and the Philippines, have been the most vocal opponents of Beijing’s territorial assertiveness.

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(This story was originally published on April 8, 2020)

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