The President of the United States, Donald Trump, has called out China for “cowardly” abandoning the Filipino fishing crew in the South China Sea.
The Chinese fishing vessel is reported to have abandoned a Filipino fishing crew after a collision in the disputed South China Sea.
Trump condemned the action of the Chinese and warned China to stay off the South China Sea.
“This is very coward and inhumane, stay off the South China Sea”, Trump tells China.
The boat on Sunday hit a Filipino craft anchored near Reed Bank – claimed by both Manila and Beijing – causing it to sink and leaving 22 crewmen “to the mercy of the elements”, said defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
Although Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has largely set aside the bitter dispute with Beijing over the resource-rich waterway, Manila does sometimes protest against Chinese action.
“We condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly action of the suspected Chinese fishing vessel and its crew for abandoning the Filipino crew,” Lorenzana said in a statement.
“This is not the expected action from a responsible and friendly people.”
Lorenzana called for an investigation into the collision, and for “diplomatic steps” to prevent a repeat of the incident.
However, Philippine defence department spokesman Arsenio Andolong told AFP the agency had yet to confirm whether the vessel was Chinese-registered, adding it was the Filipino fishermen who identified it as such.
The defence chief also thanked the crew of a Vietnamese fishing vessel in the vicinity which he said brought the Filipinos to safety.
Like the Philippines, Vietnam has partial claims over the South China Sea, where Beijing has staked “indisputable sovereignty” and built artificial islands with military facilities and airstrips.
Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia also have claims in the area.
Trump promised to address the issue in details later in the White House and we will bring you live updates.