“COVID-19 is a very real threat that demands unity and mutual trust,” the department said. “In the face of it, neither fish nor fictional historical claims are worth the fuse that’s lit by such incidents.”
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. Vietnam has been the most vocal opponent of Beijing’s territorial assertiveness. The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs recalled that 22 Filipino fishermen were left floating in the high seas after a Chinese vessel sank their boat at Reed Bank on June 9 last year. They were rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel.
“Our own similar experience revealed how much trust in a friendship is lost by it and how much trust was created by Vietnam’s humanitarian act of directly saving the lives of our Filipino fishermen,” the department said.