CHINA WARNS OF CONFRONTATION IF PH INSIST FISHERMEN ACCESS IN SCARBOROUGH SHOAL
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay said China has warned of confrontation if Manila insist access for Filipino fishermen in Scarborough Shoal.
Speaking with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during the Asia-Europe Summit in Mongolia, Yasay said Yi had proposed bilateral talks but only on issues “outside, or [in] disregard of, the arbitral ruling,” which he declined because it was not in the Philippines’ national interests.
“They said if you will insist on the ruling, discussing it along those lines, then we might be headed for a confrontation,” Yasay said during an interview with the news channel of broadcaster ABS-CBN.
Manila wanted to enforce the points of the complex ruling step-by-step but as a priority had asked China to let its fishermen go to the Scarborough Shoal without being harassed by its coastguard, Yasay said.
China’s coastguard was preventing Filipino boats from fishing around the hotly contested Scarborough Shoal, fishermen and officials said on Friday, and China’s air force has released pictures showing bombers recently flying over the area.
Yasay said hoped the ruling would lead to other Southeast Asian countries issuing a joint statement, adding that it could help neighbours also locked in disputes with China.
“We are not yet engaged in bilateral talks with anyone,” he said. “But I would like to see how we can pursue certain provisional arrangements so that it would lead to opening of bilateral or multilateral engagements should that be necessary.”