China says ‘situation’ at disputed Scarborough Shoal has not changed

A fisherman look at the fishing boats that just returned from disputed Scarborough Shoal, as they are docked at the coastal village of Cato in Infanta, Pangasinan in the Philippines, October 31, 2016. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

A fisherman look at the fishing boats that just returned from disputed Scarborough Shoal, as they are docked at the coastal village of Cato in Infanta, Pangasinan in the Philippines, October 31, 2016. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

China said on Monday the situation at the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea “has not changed and will not change”, after the Philippines said Chinese vessels that blocked the area for four years had stopped harassing its fishermen.

Philippine security officials on Sunday said China had scaled down its maritime presence at the shoal since President Rodrigo Duterte’s return from a visit to Beijing aimed at patching-up ties and courting investment.

The disputed territory is significant not only for fishing, but for the broader balance of power in the South China Sea, and the circumstances behind China’s apparent softening of its position are not clear.

Asked about Philippine fishermen entering the area unimpeded, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said China always had “normal administration” over the Scarborough Shoal.

“The relevant situation has not changed and will not change,” she told a regular briefing.

Hua said Duterte’s visit to Beijing marked an overall improvement in relations.

“China will make proper arrangements on issues of President Duterte’s interest,” Hua said, without giving details.

China had repelled fishermen since seizing the Scarborough Shoal in 2012.

Philippine boats returned from the area at the weekend with tonnes of fish and said Chinese boats had left them alone.

China’s blockade of what is a prime fishing spot prompted the previous Philippine government to file a legal case in 2013 at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, infuriating Beijing.

The tribunal’s July ruling in favor of the Philippines, which China refuses to acknowledge, declared no one country had sovereign rights over the shoal, and as a traditional fishing ground, Chinese, Philippine and Vietnamese were entitled to access it.

A frosty Philippine-China relationship changed dramatically after Duterte took office four months ago and started praising China while denouncing old ally the United States in a reversal of his predecessor’s foreign policy.

Duterte’s national security adviser, Hermogenes Esperon, confirmed there had been no agreement between the two countries about the Scarborough Shoal.

He said the dispute had not been resolved and the Philippines would reassert its rights when bilateral talks resume, although he noted “the climate has changed”.

“The president reiterated that we won in the court, the other leader also reiterated that it is historically their territory, so it was not resolved,” Esperon told reporters, referring to Duterte’s talks with Chinese leaders.

“They have coastguard ships there, there are no more navy ships and our fishermen are no longer accosted, they are not driven away.”

“In short, they are more friendly now.”

(Reporting by Paul Carsten in BEIJING and Manuel Mogato in MANILA; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: Reuters “China says ‘situation’ at disputed Scarborough Shoal has not changed”

Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


8 Comments on “China says ‘situation’ at disputed Scarborough Shoal has not changed”

  1. Simon says:

    China should give Duterte ultimatum, If he made no attempt to end its military relations and boot American troops out in 3 months their fishermen could kiss goodbye to ever fishing in Scarborough Shoal again. If Duterte does nothing in 6 months his country can kiss export of mangoes to China goodbye. If nothing happens in 12 month tousrims to his country will suffer and so on which include billions in loans and infrastructures if Duterte did bugger in a couple of years. The guy to me is just hot air about America but remains its lackey.


  2. Steve says:

    Huangyan island belongs to China with a long history. There is No reason for China to guarantee that the island will not be transformed into a military post as future PH govts. are unpredictable. A MoU or treaty relating to fishermen rights and Philippines recognising China’s sovereignty over the island should be drawn up. Huangyan island is a strategic gateway to the Pacific ocean and forms a triangle for China’s ADIZ should the need arise. Its too valuable and a powerful bartering tool for China. For instance, Philippines can keep the stolen islands, atolls or areas of claim and China administers Huangyan island as both nations accord to their conditions of reclaim on whatever territories they deem fit.

    It would be so much easier for China to reclaim and engineer the Huangyan island and concrete China’s flag atop a high flagpole. President Duterte should request expert international scholars to explain the historical rights of China over Huangyan island and why China has a better foundation of claim than Philippines. Eventually, Philippines has to relinquish it’s rights to claim the island otherwise China will soon be compelled to reclaim and engineer the island for it’s coastguard, tourism and research centres.


    • Simon says:

      Until 1999 Phillipines has made no claims in the SCS and recognise Chinese soveriengty.


      • Steve says:

        Much much earlier —- The 1898 treaty of paris, the 1900 treaty of Washington and the 1930 Convention between the US and Great Britain ALL give the Western Limit of the Philippine territory at 118 degrees east longitude, which was also reaffirmed by the Philippines CONSTITUTION in 1935. All falls under China’s jurisdiction. In 1994, the Rand McNally Atlas clearly indicate Scarborough Shoal as China’s territory, but has since being erased off the Map.

        After the PCA arbitration, PH Judge Carpio and gang of Alibaba thieves has changed the clause and no longer recognise China’s rightful claims. The claim to Scarborough Shoal now mandated by the PH constitution. Meaning they can now claim sovereignty. Its a load of crap. The US, Japaln and Aquino are all instigating for war, especially Japan. Duterte would be wise to relinquish Philippino claims.


        • Simon says:

          This is what I meant, until 1999 Philipine has no claims to SCS and itself recognise Chinese sovereignty before that time.


  3. Simon says:

    It was the Phillipines who tries to to sieze Scaraborough Shoal by arresting Chinese fishermen and sending in navy ships in 2012 and subsequently lost the territory forever when China responded militarily. And it was Phillipines who launche and paid a court in the Hague to challenge Beijing ‘s claim in the hwole of SCS which the latter took no part in. In all it was all Phillpine’s fault for causing the relation to sour. I see no reason for China to do an deals by letting them back in.
    Dutert is just talk and did nothing in real terms and I think China gave too much concessions. If Phillpines want good relations with China they would not object to China building on Scarborough Shoal and removing their rusting ship off Second Thomas Shoal.


  4. johnleecan says:

    Yes, the Philippines won in a court that they all paid for – the venue, secretarial services, lawyers and even the judges fees and salaries. So this is how the Philippines view as a fair judgement. No wonder they lie, cheat and steal.

    I highly doubt Esperon words when he said Duterte told China they won in the court. Just like before, they would just say they misquoted him or misunderstood his statement. A ploy often used by the Philippine officials.


  5. Fre Okin says:

    China will probably never leave completely. A couple of coast guard ships is a must to give evidence of sovereignty.

    China will also watch and see how far Duterte can push US personnel and military assets out of the Philippines bases.

    The Scarborough Shoal/Huangyan island may never be settled while other areas of agreement moves forward, specifically Reed Bank oil/gas development.

    Scarborough Shoal/Huangyan island will probably be like Gibraltar where UK have sovereignty and Spain still claim to be hers even after 300+ years!

    For the Chinese, Scarborough Shoal/Huangyan island will be a reserve military area and will be quickly converted into an artificial island if she find it necessary, so it is a reminder to PH and US if they do not want China to militarise it, PH have to quickly settle it in China’s favor with a guarantee it will not be turned into a military base for offensive purpose.