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China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By MOJINGXI mojingxi@chi­

China’s Coast Guard res­cues two Filipino fish­er­men off Huangyan Is­land in the South China Sea, searches for oth­ers.

China’s Coast Guard has res­cued two Philip­pine fish­er­men after their ves­sel en­coun­tered rough seas off Huangyan Is­land in the South China Sea, and it is help­ing search for other miss­ing fish­er­men, For­eign Min­istry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Tues­day.

Philip­pine Coast Guard of­fi­cials said on Mon­day that they had launched a searchan­dres­cue op­er­a­tion for five Filipinos who had failed to re­turn to port after a ty­phoon struck, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported.

The Philip­pine Coast Guard was co­or­di­nat­ing operations with its Chi­nese coun­ter­part, AP quoted Philip­pine Coast Guard spokesman Ar­mand Balilo as say­ing.

At a daily news con­fer­ence in Bei­jing, Geng said, “China at­taches great im­por­tance to the sit­u­a­tion, and Chi­nese boats and ships have been de­ployed to search for the miss­ing fish­er­men.”

He con­firmed that two Philip­pine fish­er­men had been res­cued and said, “China will con­tinue to con­duct search and res­cue operations.”

China has tight­ened its con­trol over the is­land since 2012, when the gov­ern­ment of for­mer Philip­pine pres­i­dent Benigno Aquino III stirred up ten­sion in the re­gion by ar­rest­ing Chi­nese fish­er­men.

Filipinos were al­lowed to fish near the is­land be­gin­ning last month after new Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s four-day visit to China, which marked an over­all im­prove­ment in the China-Philip­pines re­la­tion­ship.

Xu Lip­ing, a se­nior re­searcher on South­east Asian stud­ies at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, said China showed that it is a re­spon­si­ble coun­try by of­fer­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian help to peo­ple fish­ing in the area. He said the res­cue ef­fort also re­flects friendly co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries.

“Treat­ing both Chi­nese and Philip­pine fish­er­men equally with­out dis­crim­i­na­tion will help the two sides play down their dif­fer­ences over the South China Sea and meet each other half­way in the fu­ture,” Xu said.

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