China, Philippines in ‘friendly’ understanding on shoal
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