LOOK: Chinese vessels hound Philippine fishing boat
The Chinese Navy deployed military sea vessels to chase down a Filipino vessel with civilians on board in the West Philippine Sea Thursday.
The Filipino civilian vessel with the ABS-CBN news team aboard was traveling across various reefs and shoals in the West Philippine Sea close to the mainland of Palawan to see where Filipino fisherfolk have moved their livelihood since the large number of Chinese vessels have overwhelmed their former fishing grounds, and since the artificial islands built by China have been established.
On its way to Ayungin Shoal, where one of the nine Philippine military detachments is located in the West Philippine Sea, a China Coast Guard (CCG) vessel was spotted in the south side of the shoal. The Filipino crew observed the ship for a few minutes, until it received a radio message from the China Coast Guard asking for them to identify themselves.
The civilian vessel was four miles from the entrance of Ayungin Shoal well within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
The Filipino captain instead decided to steer the boat away from Ayungin Shoal in a complete 180-degree turn, in hopes of communicating to the China Coast Guard vessel that it was no longer pursuing its earlier route into Ayungin.
However, the China Coast Guard vessel accelerated its speed and started to chase the Filipino vessel. The Chinese ship followed the Filipino ship on its path home to mainland Palawan for an hour, getting so close that bow number 5101 was visible to the naked eye, sometimes sailing beside the Filipino vessel on either side.
CCG 5101 slowed down and turned away after an hour to the relief of the Filipino crew, who by this time had been following a straight path back to mainland Palawan. However, two smaller, faster vessels emerged in the horizon, apparently giving chase to the Filipino boat. Within minutes, the unique shape and design of the Houbei Type 22 missile fast attack craft became visible. The two missile-capable boats resumed the chase.
GPS coordinates indicate that the Filipino vessel was only 90 nautical miles from mainland Palawan following a straight path home when the missile boats were chasing it down.
Chinese Coast Guard ship, CCG 5101, tails a fishing vessel with ABS-CBN reporter Chiara Zambrano on board in the West Philippine Sea on April 8, 2021.Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News
Chinese Coast Guard ship, CCG 5101, moves closer to a fishing vessel with ABS-CBN reporter Chiara Zambrano on board in the West Philippine Sea on April 8, 2021.Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News
A Chinese patrol vessel, a Houbei Type 22 missile fast attack craft, tails the Philippine fishing vessel where the Chinese Coast Guard ship left off in the West Philippine Sea on April 8, 2021.Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News
Two Chinese patrol vessels of the Houbei Type 22 missile fast attack craft tail the Philippine fishing vessel in the West Philippine Sea on April 8, 2021.Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News
The two missile boats pursued the Filipino vessel for 20 to 30 minutes before pulling out and returning to the direction of Mischief Reef in the West Philippine Sea on April 8, 2021.Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News