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.