China, Philip­pines in ‘friendly’ un­der­stand­ing on shoal

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

MANILA: The Philip­pines and China have reached a “friendly” un­der­stand­ing al­low­ing Filipinos to fish around a dis­puted shoal seized by Bei­jing in 2012, a se­nior aide to Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte said yes­ter­day.

Duterte ne­go­ti­ated the un­der­stand­ing at his re­cent meet­ing in Bei­jing with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, Manila’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser Her­mo­genes Esperon said.

As a re­sult, he said, in re­cent days Filipino fish­er­men have been able to fish un­mo­lested at Scar­bor­ough Shoal while Chi­nese ves­sels have pa­trolled nearby.

“There is no agree­ment ... but our pres­i­dent be­lieves that our fish­er­men will no longer be ha­rassed be­cause he al­ready brought up this mat­ter,” Esperon said.

“The coast­guard of China is there, but their navy is gone. And now, our fish­er­men are no longer be­ing ac­costed, no longer be­ing forced out, so we can say things are now friendly.”

China had been driv­ing away Filipino fish­er­men from the rich fish­ing ground but last week­end Filipinos were once more able to fish at the shoal with­out China in­ter­fer­ing.

Esperon stressed that nei­ther coun­try has dropped its claim to the shoal but the two lead­ers have sidestepped the is­sue to re­pair frayed ties. – AFP

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