China offers to talk, but PH will wait
CHINA said it would initiate “friendly consultations” with neighboring countries to avoid confrontations over fishing activities in disputed portions of the South China Sea, but the Philippines said it would await the ruling of an international tribunal on China’s maritime claims.
The Philippines awaits the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague in the coming weeks, after questioning China’s massive territorial claims in the South China Sea.
The arbitration case raises various issues filed by the Philippines, including two issues that refer to fishing activities of Filipinos in the West Philippine Sea. These include: that China has unlawfully failed to prevent Chinese nationals and vessels from exploiting the living resources in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines; and that China has unlawfully prevented Filipino fishermen from pursuing their livelihood by interfering with traditional fishing activities at Scarborough Shoal.
In its latest move, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said confrontations between Chinese fishermen and those from the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan could be avoided through “friendly consultations.”
“Fishery cooperation is an important part of mutually beneficial cooperation between China and neighboring countries, including coast countries in the South China Sea,” said Lu in his regular briefing in Beijing over the weekend, a transcript of which was posted on the website of the Foreign Ministry of China.
He said the Chinese government attached great importance to fishery management and directed Chinese fishermen to conduct fishing operations in accordance with laws and regulations.
But since 2012, the Philippines has recorded numerous cases of aggression by Chinese vessels, particularly in waters near the disputed Scarborough Shoal.