THE Chinese Embassy in the Philippines has denied that their Coast Guard “forcefully retrieved” the unidentified floating object off Pagasa Island while it was being towed by Filipino troops.

In a statement, it said the Philippine military personnel returned the floating object to the Chinese Coast Guard after a “friendly consultation.”

It said the object, which was a wreckage of the fairing of a rocket recently launched by China, was found by the China Coast Guard ship around 8 a.m. of November 20 in the waters off Nansha Islands.

“Before the China Coast Guard found the said floating object, some Philippine Navy personnel already retrieved and towed it,” it said.

“After friendly consultation, the Philippine side returned the floating object to the Chinese side on the spot. The Chinese side expressed gratitude to the Philippine side. There was no so-called blocking of the course of a Philippine Navy boat and forcefully retrieving the object at the scene,” it added.

Aside from “forcefully retrieving the object,” Western Command commander Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos said the Chinese Coast Guard vessel also “blocked” the Filipino troops’ pre-plotted course twice and deployed its Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat.

He said the Chinese personnel cut the towing line attached to the Filipino rubber boat.

“The NSEL ( Naval Station Emilio Liwanag) Team decided to return to Pagasa Island. No member of the NSEL Team was injured during this incident,” said Carlos.

The incident was reported to the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea for appropriate action including the possible filing of protest against China anew.

The Philippine government has filed numerous protests against China over numerous harassment incidents involving Filipino fishermen, as well as soldiers in the disputed waters off West Philippine Sea.

China refused to recognize the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands that invalidates their claims within the sea areas falling within the nine-dash line that is over 90 percent of the West Philippine Sea and affirmed the traditional and legitimate fishing rights of Filipino fishermen in the area. (SunStar Philippines)