Chi­nese ships still at dis­puted shoal but not stop­ping fish­er­men

The Myanmar Times - - World -

CHI­NESE coast­guard ships are still pa­trolling the dis­puted Scar­bor­ough Shoal in the South China Sea but are not stop­ping Filipinos from fish­ing there, a Philip­pine de­fence spokesper­son said yes­ter­day.

The in­for­ma­tion – from fish­er­men who have just re­turned from the shoal – came de­spite ear­lier Philip­pine gov­ern­ment state­ments that the Chi­nese had left the out­crop they seized in 2012.

A spokesper­son for Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte had said there were no longer signs of Chi­nese ships at the shoal, after Mr Duterte vis­ited China to re­pair frayed ties.

How­ever De­fence De­part­ment spokesper­son Arse­nio An­do­long said fish­er­men who vis­ited the shoal still saw Chi­nese coast­guard ships there.

“Filipino fish­er­men, who have been to Scar­bor­ough Shoal say that they have ob­served an un­de­ter­mined num­ber of Chi­nese white ships in the area but [the Filipinos] were not sub­jected to any ha­rass­ment by th­ese ves­sels and they were able to fish in peace,” he said yes­ter­day.

China took con­trol of the shoal, 230 kilo­me­tres (140 miles) west of the main Philip­pine is­land of Lu­zon, in 2012. It drove Filipino fish­er­men away from the rich fish­ing ground.

In a case brought by then-pres­i­dent Benigno Aquino, the Philip­pines won a re­sound­ing vic­tory over China at an in­ter­na­tional tri­bunal ear­lier this year.

How­ever Mr Duterte played down this vic­tory in a visit to China last week, putting ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes on the back-burner and fo­cus­ing in­stead on Chi­nese aid.

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