philippines china vessels have left scarborough shoal
Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
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Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
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Philippines: China vessels have left Scarborough Shoal

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Arab Today, arab today Philippines: China vessels have left Scarborough Shoal

Chinese Coast Guard members, wearing black caps and orange life vests, approaching Filipino fishermen as they confront them off Scarborough Shoal at South China Sea in northwestern Philippines.
Manila - Arab Today

Chinese ships are no longer at the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea and Philippine boats can resume fishing, the Philippine defense minister said on Friday, calling the Chinese departure a “welcome development.”
Philippine fishermen could access the shoal unimpeded for the first time in four years, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said, capping off a startling turnaround in ties since his country rattled China in 2013 by challenging its maritime claims at an international tribunal.
The departure of the Chinese coast guard comes after President Rodrigo Duterte’s high-profile visit to Beijing and follows his repeated requests for China to end its blockade of the shoal, a tranquil lagoon rich in fish stocks.
“Since three days ago there are no longer Chinese ships, coast guard or navy, in the Scarborough area,” Lorenzana told reporters.
“If the Chinese ships have left then it means our fishermen can resume fishing in the area.”
Though the Scarborough Shoal is comprised of only a few rocks poking above the sea some 124 nautical miles off the Philippine mainland, it is symbolic of the country’s efforts to assert its maritime sovereignty claims.
Lorenzana did not explain the circumstances of the Chinese vessels leaving the shoal, which was the centerpiece of a case Manila filed in 2013 at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague.
Asked on Friday about the return of Philippine fishermen to the shoal, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang made no mention of a coast guard withdrawal.
The two countries “were able to work together on issues regarding the South China Sea and appropriately resolve disputes,” Lu told a regular briefing.
The Hague court in July declared that despite the Scarborough Shoal being located within the Philippines’ 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone, no one country had sovereign rights to it, so that all claimants may fish there.
China has refused to recognize the case or the award, which also invalidated the nine-dash line on Chinese maps denoting its claims to most of the South China Sea.
China seized Scarborough Shoal — claimed by Beijing as Huangyan island and by Manila as Panatag — in 2012.
The previous administration’s pursuit of the case infuriated China, but it appears to have changed its stance since Duterte took office and started praising Beijing, often in the same sentences as his perplexing verbal attacks on longtime ally the United States.
Reuters exclusively reported on the eve of Duterte’s visit to China that Beijing would consider granting Philippine fishermen conditional access to the shoal.
An end to the standoff over the shoal is still a complex and potentially combustible issue for both countries.
Some Philippine commentators say Manila may object to any reference to its fishermen being “permitted” by China to return, while Beijing might be wary of appearing to be softening its position on what it calls “indisputable” sovereignty.

 

Source: Arab News

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philippines china vessels have left scarborough shoal philippines china vessels have left scarborough shoal

 



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