China claims it rescued 2 Filipino fishermen in Spratly Islands

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 22) — Chinese state media Xinhua on Friday claimed a Chinese militia vessel rescued two Filipino fishermen in the Spratly Islands.

The fishermen reportedly approached China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) naval vessel "Aba" for help while it was on a cruise in the eastern maritime zone of the Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea, which Beijing calls the Nansha Islands.

One of the fishermen was said to have suffered wounds inflicted by propeller blades.

The report said the two Filipinos were rescued "recently" but no specific date was given.

Xinhua added that the PLA medics conducted a medical examination on the wounded fisherman who was losing blood.

"PLA naval medics cleansed the fisherman's wounds, stopped the bleeding, and bandaged the wounds," it said.

It added that the Chinese also provided the fishermen with food and medical supplies, including drinking water, antibiotics and painkillers before turning them over to Philippine authorities.

Xinhua also reported that the Chinese Coast Guard informed the Filipino authorities about the rescue through a communication hotline between the two countries.

Last month, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) disclosed that the hotline between itself and the CCG had become defunct, leaving only the line of communication between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Beijing functional.

READ: Hotline between PH, China coast guards now defunct - PCG

PCG spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Jay Tarriela said the country did not gain anything from the hotline since its establishment under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017, adding that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. did not renew the memorandum of understanding between the two coast guards when he visited Beijing last January.

Beijing also previously ghosted the Philippines' attempts at contact, particularly when the CCG used water cannons on Filipino vessels leading a resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal on Aug. 5.

CNN Philippines has contacted the PCG to confirm the reported rescue.