Standoff near Philippines over; Chinese boats keep catch

MANILA Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:43am EDT

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MANILA (Reuters) - Chinese fishing boats left a disputed area of the South China Sea with their catches on Saturday, ending a six-day standoff but dealing a blow to Philippine efforts to assert sovereignty over the area and protect marine resources.

The Philippines had wanted the Chinese fishermen to hand over their hauls of giant clams, corals and live sharks harvested near the disputed Scarborough Shoal, in return for safe passage out of the area.

China sent surveillance ships to protect its fishermen while the Philippines dispatched its biggest warship. Negotiations dragged on and all eight boats left without giving anything up.

"The Chinese fishing vessels had left the lagoon, a development which we had been working towards except for our not being able to confiscate their illegal harvest ... which was regrettable," Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Del Rosario said in a statement.

China has disputes with several countries in the region including the Philippines over areas of the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas and is crossed by important shipping lanes.

There is concern among some neighbors about what they see as China's growing assertiveness in staking its claims over the sea and various islands, reefs and shoals.

The Philippines and China traded diplomatic protests over the latest confrontation with the Philippines complaining of intrusion and illegal fishing and China saying its fishermen were harassed.

A Philippine military commander said a Philippine coastguard vessel and one Chinese ship remained in the area.

(Reporting by Rosemarie Francisco; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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Comments (7)
JosephTan1 wrote:
You know why that part is officially called South China Sea – and really no one really endorsed what it is called East Sea, West Philippine Sea or even the Indonesia Sea? Simple, because that is the sea that China dominates since time immemorial.
Similarly why is GREECE able to dominate the WHOLE of Aegean Seas even up to the shore of larger neighbour TURKEY????? And the whole world including EU, US, UN and even TURKEY herself recognize that territorial waters????? Because the Greek had been there and left the foot-prints since the beginning of CIVILISATION in Europe!!!!!

Apr 14, 2012 4:18am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Terrae wrote:
The Philippines might as well get used to it, the carrier battle groups China is currently building are not intended to take on the might of the US navy, they’re to be used to bully raw materials producing countries like Vietnam, Burma, and the Philippines. All countries in south-east asia will soon find themselves in China’s sphere of interest, and those countries will have no say in the matter.

Apr 14, 2012 4:34am EDT  --  Report as abuse
1066ad wrote:
This is all so predictable. The richer China becomes the more she will demand of her neighbors resources; we did as well.

Apr 14, 2012 10:13am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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