BEIJING, July 13, 2021 / PRNewswire / – Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea is a typhoon and accident prone area when storms come with high winds and surging waves, making humanitarian aid at sea vital for fishermen and their ships.
Two Filipino fishermen were rescued by Chinese Coast Guard ships amid a strong typhoon November 28, 2016, near Scarborough Shoal. The two fishermen were well looked after and returned the Phillipines on 2. December if the weather permits.
“Xiehu”, the 25th typhoon of the year, attacked the Scarborough Shoal area in late November, causing huge waves in the sea. The Chinese ship “Qiongqionghaiyu 09289” rescued two Filipino fishermen from a capsized boat as they sought refuge in the port of Scarborough Shoal.
The Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) quickly dispatched the CCG 3501 and 3412 to the area where the incident occurred and attempted to get the two fishermen on the 3501 ship so they could have better medical care and better living conditions. The Chinese Coast Guard was in close contact with the Philippine Coast Guard throughout the process.
Under the influence of the typhoon, the sea conditions were very unfavorable for shipping. When all the ships sought protection in the harbor, the two Chinese ships set out against wind and waves towards Scarborough Shoal.
âThe ship swayed so much that it threatened to overturn at any time. Only if we change course and slow down from time to time can we move forward, âsaid Wu Zhiqiang, Captain of CCG 3501.
Under normal conditions, it usually takes several hours for the Chinese ships to sail from their berth to Scarborough Shoal. However, due to the extreme weather, the ships overturned 13 o’clock on November 29th and arrived at noon the next day.
When the two fishermen were first spotted in the water, one of them was severely exhausted. After being transferred to the CCG 3501, they underwent a careful physical examination and made a good recovery. Armed with medical supplies, clothing, toiletries, and a comfortable bedroom, they returned to good health, both physically and mentally.
The language was a big problem when the Chinese Coast Guard tried to communicate with the Filipino fishermen. Since the fishermen spoke Filipino as their mother tongue, the Chinese police, who only spoke fluent English, did not understand what they were saying. Under such circumstances, they relied on body language and written English.
It took a great deal of effort by the Chinese Coast Guard to definitively confirm the identities of the two fishermen and basic information about the incident, including the names of the fishermen, addresses, ship number and what happened to the ship in the storm.
“Thank you and ‘Xiexie'”, the Filipino fishermen thanked the Chinese Coast Guard for their help in plain English and Chinese.
It was just as difficult to hand over the two fishermen the Phillipines than, if not more than, to save her from the sea. Because of the bad weather, the Philippine coast guard ship 4401 had to navigate through choppy water to pick up the two fishermen from the Chinese ship.
The Filipino ship made several attempts to connect to the Chinese ship, which took some time as the waters in the area were very rough.
Waves three to four meters high and poor visibility at sea made a handover only on the afternoon of the 2. December. To the east of Scarborough Shoal, two Philippine coast guards boarded the CCG 3501 and the two fishermen were handed over to them.
“Rescue at sea is the responsibility and obligation of every ship,” said Wu Zhiqiang, the Chinese captain, “Humanitarian aid is a global obligation, regardless of nationality.”
âWe thank the Chinese Coast Guard for their support. This act shows that Filipino-Sino relations are improving after President Duterte’s recent successful visit to China, “said Martin Andanar, Secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO). “We assume that relations between the two countries will continue to improve in the coming years.”
The Phillipines and China have maintained cooperation on humanitarian aid. China Coast Guard Academy organized two training courses for the Philippine Coast Guard in 2017 and 2018. Every year around 20 Philippine coast guards took part in the courses and praised the friendly exchange in promoting maritime security and maritime legal protection.
âThe most important thing is to build mutual trust with the Phillipinesto find common ground through communication, “said Zhang Tianhui, a Official at the China Coast Guard Academy’s training base at the time. “We are very sincere in our communication. This is beneficial for building a mutual trust relationship between the two countries.”
The Philippine Coast Guard and the Chinese Coast Guard have also conducted joint sea search and rescue exercises and fire fighting exercises at sea in the waters of Manila, the capital of the Phillipines, on January 15, 2020, that was the first time the CCG ship visited the Phillipines.
Last June 2021 marked the 46th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Phillipines and China, as well as the 20th day of friendship. Over the years, the two countries have made efforts to enhance understanding, mutual trust and cooperation to promote maritime security and maritime law enforcement, and have placed search and rescue at sea as key areas of cooperation between the two countries highlighted.
SOURCE China Oceanic Development Foundation