Min­istry: is­land’s sta­tus not changed

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - ByWANG QINGYUN wangqingyun@ chi­nadaily.com.cn Zou Shuo con­trib­uted to this story.

China said its sovereignty and ad­min­is­tra­tion over Huangyan Is­land in the South China Sea “has not and will not change”, and that China and the Philip­pines should strengthen di­a­logue and co­op­er­a­tion to make the South China Sea is­sue a pos­i­tive fac­tor for en­hanc­ing bi­lat­eral friend­ship and co­op­er­a­tion.

For­eign Min­istry spokesman Geng Shuang made the re­marks in a daily news con­fer­ence on Tues­day in re­sponse to re­ports that Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte will is­sue an or­der to ban all fish­er­men from fish­ing in the la­goon of the is­land.

Dur­ing their meet­ing in Lima, the cap­i­tal of Peru, on Satur­day, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping told Duterte that the two coun­tries should stick to friendly co­op­er­a­tion and proper man­age­ment of dif­fer­ences, while Duterte said the Philip­pines is will­ing to han­dle mar­itime is­sues through di­a­logue and con­sul­ta­tion with China.

Geng said: “China has made proper ar­range­ments re­gard­ing Filipino fish­er­men fish­ing in wa­ters near Huangyan Is­land.”

Ten­sions around Huangyan Is­land, one of China’s is­lands in the South China Sea, rose in April 2012, when a Philip­pine mil­i­tary ves­sel con­fronted Chi­nese fish­er­men who were fish­ing in the is­land’s la­goon and were later evac­u­ated with the help of Chi­nese mar­itime law en­force­ment ves­sels.

Ties be­tween China and the Philip­pines fur­ther wors­ened when the pre­vi­ous Philip­pine govern­ment uni­lat­er­ally filed an ar­bi­tra­tion case over the South China Sea.

Duterte, who be­came Philip­pine pres­i­dent in June and had voiced in­ten­tions to talk to China over bi­lat­eral mar­itime dis­putes, vis­ited China in Oc­to­ber, help­ing to im­prove bi­lat­eral ties.

Chen Qinghong, a re­searcher of South­east Asian stud­ies at the China In­sti­tutes of Con­tem­po­rary In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions, said the ban to be is­sued is in line with the two coun­tries’ ef­forts to im­prove re­la­tions and re­solve South China Sea dis­putes through di­a­logue and con­sul­ta­tion, and it helps im­prove the en­vi­ron­ment of the is­land.

“The ban has noth­ing to do with sovereignty,” Chen said, adding that the news may be dis­torted by West­ern me­dia or some po­lit­i­cal forces in the Philip­pines, as the move sug­gests the coun­try has a le­git­i­mate claim to Huangyan Is­land.

China will not ac­cept such dis­tor­tion, Chen said.

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