China envoy ‘happy’ as Filipino, Chinese fishers fish ‘peacefully’ in disputed areas
MANILA, Philippines — Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian said Tuesday that he is “happy” that both Filipino and Chinese fishers “have been getting along” and are fishing “peacefully” in disputed areas.
In the weekly Pandesal forum, Huang was asked what their government could do to improve the situation of Filipino fishers in contentious areas of the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea.
To which, his reply was: “I’m happy to see that fishermen from both countries have been fishing at the sea peacefully and actually they have been getting along.”
“While we are managing differences, we are also working to promote maritime cooperation between our two countries.”
Huang also said they believe that maritime cooperation will benefit the two nations’ fishers in the future.
Some Filipino fishermen, however, shared that they experienced aggressive actions by Chinese fishers in the disputed sea.
READ: Filipinos fishing on frontline of China’s battle for disputed sea
READ: Aggressive acts by Chinese fishing boats continue in South China Sea
Oil and gas exploration
Meanwhile, Huang believed that cooperation between the Philippines and China for oil and gas exploration will address the energy demand of the two countries.
“We do believe that our cooperation in oil and gas will help meet the need of our two countries of energy. We are ready to work with this administration. We hope that we will find some way out to handle the remaining differences so that we could begin that kind of oil and gas common developments in an early date so that it can benefit our people and our two countries as early as possible,” he said.
Days before former President Rodrigo Duterte stepped down from his post last June, the Philippines ended its discussion with China for a planned joint oil and gas search in the West Philippine Sea.
Subsequently, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Beijing is ready to work with the new administration under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on joint oil exploration.
Manila and Beijing have a long-standing maritime row as China insists its overlapping claims in the South China Sea.
READ: PH rejects efforts to undermine arbitral ruling on South China Sea
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In July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines and invalidated China’s nine-dash line. With reports from Alyssa Joy Quevedo, trainee
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