Asia - Pacific

Philippines urges China to let fishing in disputed sea

President Duterte tells Beijing to allow fishermen to catch fish in disputed sea as they have to eat

Devina Halim   | 04.05.2021
Philippines urges China to let fishing in disputed sea Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte

JAKARTA, Indonesia

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has urged China not to allow the maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) to deny fishing rights to Filipino fishermen.

“There was no quarrel. So just leave the fishermen alone because they have to eat,” said Duterte in his briefing on Monday night.

Admitting that China had a claim over the entire sea, including the WPS, Duterte said that it does not mean that his country’s fishermen will go hungry.

“I know that it is yours, according to you. But you must also have heard of the fact that people are hungry,” he said recalling his conversation with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

The Philippines president said he was ready to talk to Beijing to settle any conflict in the disputed area.

In 2021, the Philippines has lodged at least five diplomatic protests against China over the sea dispute.

Recently it has protested the dangerous maneuver by the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) against the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels in the WPS.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the CCG blocked PCG vessels during its patrols and training exercises in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc from April 24-25.

Duterte noted that he would maintain a non-combative stance to address the maritime dispute with China.

“Just because we have a conflict with China does not mean to say that we have to be rude and disrespectful. In fact, we have a lot of things to thank China for their help until today,” he added.

The country's vaccination drive started on March 1 with the 600,000 Sinovac vaccine doses donated by China.

​​​​​​​*Writing by Maria Elisa Hospita

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