Foreign correspondents in the Philippines condemn China over claims of video manipulation

March 28, 2024 - 10:20 AM
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Philippine Coast Guard personnel prepare rubber fenders after Chinese Coast Guard vessels blocked their way to a resupply mission at the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea, March 5, 2024. (Reuters/Adrian Portugal/File Photo)

Foreign correspondents in Manila rejected on Wednesday a claim made by China that the Philippines had journalists manipulate videos taken during resupply missions in the South China Sea to make it look like a “victim”.

The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) “takes deep offence at the insinuation that the press is a ‘troublemaker’ and in cahoots with the government to forward a political agenda,” it said in a statement.

The statement was in response to a post by China’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hua Chunying, on platform X on March 26.

Hua was referring to the Philippines’ routine mission to deliver supplies for its troops stationed on a grounded warship on the Second Thomas Shoal, where Chinese coastguard vessels and Philippine ships have had frequent run-ins.

In the post, Hua said such missions always carried many journalists on board and “had them manipulate the videos they recorded to make sensational news and project the Philippines is a victim”.

FOCAP said it “strongly rejects and condemns the false, baseless claims” of Hua and the Chinese Embassy in Manila, which reposted the comments on platform X.

The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines and China’s foreign ministry in Beijing did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Foreign and local journalists, including Reuters, have joined and covered the resupply missions in the disputed waters.

The FOCAP said the comments were an insult to the integrity of journalists, adding that “a free and independent press reports not what they are told, but what they observe”.

A spokesperson for the Philippine Coast Guard, which escorts the civilian boats carrying out the resupply missions, said on platform X: “China seems to have overlooked the fact that in a democratic country like the Philippines, we highly value freedom of speech and freedom of the press.”

READ: Timeline: Rift deepens between the Philippines, China over South China Sea

— Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Alex Richardson