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Fish War? Apparent Ramming is Deadly

A fisherman was killed, another was injured, and four more are missing after their fishing boat was rammed by an alleged Chinese vessel 160 nautical miles from the Panatag Shoal, in the Philippines. The Philippine fishing boat, “Axl John,” was anchored at a payaw, or artificial fish shelter, when the ramming occurred. On June 20, the owner of the “Axl John” received a call from the boat informing her that they were rammed by a “Chinese vessel” while at anchor, damaging and eventually sinking the Philippine fishing boat.

There is no certainty that the collision was intentional, since sea conditions were rough at the time because of a storm surge. A Philippine official stated: “It’s the mystery. If it was accidental, they should have helped [the sunk Filipino fishermen].” Also, he added that it was hard to say if the ramming was intentional because it has a “diplomatic repercussion” as the site of the incident is near the Scarborough Shoal, where a standoff between Chinese and Filipino ships broke out last April 10.

Both countries claimed the territory. Tensions flared in April when the Philippines accused Chinese fishermen of poaching within its exclusive economic zone, which includes the shoal. China responded by sending paramilitary vessels to protect the fishermen.

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