Philippine and Chinese officials say that the reported presence of Chinese ships on Pagasa Island (Thitu Island) in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) should not be a cause of alarm, saying that this is only “natural.”
“You may see some presence of Chinese ships or Filipino ships, but that’s a part, we say, that overlapping or disputed area. So it’s quite natural for you to see some of the boats, fishing boats to be there,” Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua told reporters Thursday at Camp Aguinaldo.
“They are carrying [out] their daily fishing. You don’t have to be alarmed and both Chinese and Filipino side have a clear of understanding of what they are doing,” he added.
Zhao said they are strictly adhering to the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) that China and Asean countries have agreed upon.
Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano recently expressed alarm over the reported presence of three vessels of Chinese maritime militia and a ship of the People’s Liberation Army last September.
Pagasa Island is the seat of government and biggest island claim of the Philippines in the Spratlys. It is the only island in the Spratlys that is inhabited by civilians.
In the same briefing, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also said there is no conflict going on in the disputed waters.
“It’s natural, like the ambassador said, that you can see a lot of ships there. It doesn’t mean that the ships are doing illegal things or harassing other people, but they are just there, maybe to pursue their missions according to the claims of the Chinese,” he said.
“So we are managing the conflict there. There is no violent conflict between us. We are managing it, we are following the DOC. This is the code of conduct of all claimants in the South China Sea,” the defense chief said. /je
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.