Chinese vessels in Pag-asa Island not armed, says China envoy
MANILA, Philippines — Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua on Monday assured that the Chinese vessels seen in the Manila occupied-Pag-asa Island in the South China Sea are not armed.
“They are actually fishermen,” Zhao told reporters in Malacañang before he met with Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
Earlier, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it has monitored a surge of vessels from a Chinese fishing fleet around Pag-asa island this year. The AFP Western Command said the vessels were part of the China maritime militia.
However, Zhao claimed that the Chinese vessels seen near the island were not armed.
“Not armed, as far as I know. They are not armed at all,” he said.
Zhao also said reports claiming that there were 600 Chinese vessels around the Pag-asa Island are still subject to verification.
“I don’t know whether or not there are that many vessels or not. We need to verify (that),” the Chinese envoy said.
According to Panelo, the Philippine government has already filed a diplomatic protest against China over the incident.
Zhao also assured that the Chinese “line of communication” remains open to settling the issue through the “proper channel.” /ee
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