Manila, Beijing agree to negotiate fishing rights in South China Sea
Manila, May 1 (EFE).- The Philippines and China agreed to negotiate fishing rights in the South China Sea following the latest episodes of tension between ships of both countries in the disputed waters, said Philippine President on Monday.
Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who is scheduled to meet United States President Joe Biden in Washington later Monday, spoke to the media during the plane trip about his interaction with a representative from Beijing, but did not provide further details, according to state-owned Philippine News Agency.
Marcos Jr. said that both parties agreed to negotiate fishing rights in the disputed water, and that he had requested the foreign ministry to outline a map with the fishing grounds for the area in question.
“The overall priority is to safeguard our maritime territory but when you go into the details, the most immediate concern is the fishing rights. That’s what we have to decide and they have agreed again to sit down,” he said.
The Philippine president also underlined the importance of Beijing and Manila keeping open “a direct line of communication,” a mechanism agreed in January, to deal with the multiple incidents involving the two sides.
China and the Philippines have a long-standing territorial conflict over the sovereignty of Scarborough Atoll and part of the Spratly archipelago.
Manila denounced on Friday several “dangerous maneuvers” by Chinese coast guard ships around Ayungin Shoal, about 105 nautical miles off the Philippine southwestern coast.
While reports of incursions by Chinese ships are frequent in this area, clashes between Philippine Coast Guard and Chinese Navy ships are uncommon.
In addition to the Philippines and China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei claim part of the strategic South China Sea, a region through which 30 percent of global trade circulates and which houses 12 percent of the world’s fishing grounds, along with oil and gas deposits. EFE