Philippines’ Marcos calls on China to explain mismatched reports of rocket debris seizure

beijing chinese president xi jinping china

The Philippines will ask Beijing to explain its “more benign” account of an incident involving Chinese coastguard taking rocket debris from Filipino soldiers in disputed waters, President Ferdinand Marcos Jnr said.

A senior Filipino navy official on Monday accused the Chinese coastguard of “forcefully” seizing parts of a rocket fairing on Sunday that landed in waters off the Spratly Islands in the hotly contested South China Sea.

Beijing insisted the handover took place after “friendly consultation”.

“The report of the Philippine navy and the report from China did not match,” Marcos told reporters on Tuesday. “I have complete trust in our navy and if this is what they say happened, I can only believe that that is what happened.”

The South China Sea is a long-standing source of tensions between the two nations.

Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire sea and has ignored an international court ruling that its claims have no legal basis.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have overlapping claims to parts of it.

Marcos has insisted he will not let China trample on the Philippines’ maritime rights – in contrast to his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte who was reluctant to criticise the superpower.

“With the way that the region, our region the Asia-Pacific, is heating up, there might be a small mistake, a misunderstanding that could blow up,” Marcos warned.

He said his planned visit to China in January could be an opportunity to find a way to avoid further incidents.
“We want to have a mechanism, we have to find a way to prevent this from happening again,” he said.