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International relations

'A little accident' -- Duterte plays down China sinking of fishing boat

Philippines are unlikely to bring up the issue at the upcoming ASEAN summit

On becoming president in 2016, Duterte abandoned Manila's hard-line stance toward Beijing on the South China Sea. (Source photos by AP / Kosaku Mimura)

MANILA -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has broken his silence over the sinking of a Philippine fishing boat by a Chinese vessel, saying the June 9 collision in the South China Sea was just a "a little maritime accident."

Duterte had been under fire for not speaking up about the incident off Reed Bank in what Manila calls the West Philippine Sea. The Chinese sailors abandoned the 22 Filipinos on the sunken vessel, who said they were rescued by Vietnamese fishermen.

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