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Free fishermen, China tells Philippines

Publication Date : 14-05-2014


China stood pat on its call for the Philippines to release its fishermen arrested for poaching turtles in the West Philippine Sea.

This was stressed on Monday by Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying as Palawan prosecutors filed charges against nine Chinese fishermen for allegedly poaching within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“We have made clear our positions and demands on many occasions. We hope that this incident can be properly settled as soon as possible,” Hua said at a press conference in Beijing.

China has been insisting on its “indisputable sovereignty” over the waters where the fishermen were arrested, saying it was part of the South China Sea. Beijing claims ownership of most of the sea against rival claims of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

Hasa-Hasa Shoal, where the Chinese were arrested, is located within the Philippines’ 370-km EEZ in an area Manila calls the West Philippine Sea. China does not recognise this delineation.

The arrest of the Chinese fishermen was the latest flare-up in the long-standing territorial dispute covering naturally rich areas in the South China Sea.

China’s state-run media on Tuesday slammed Beijing’s territorial challengers.

“The Philippines has singled itself out as a determined challenger of Chinese national interests and the devoted hatchet man of foreign anti-China forces,” the government-run China Daily said in an editorial.

“It needs to be convinced that it has made a choice that, if it persists, means paying an unaffordable price.”

China asserts ownership over almost all of the South China Sea. It is also in a bitter dispute with Japan over small islands in the East China Sea.

The China Daily accused Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam of worsening situations in the region, encouraged by “malicious third parties.”

“Beijing must make sure that every claimant knows blackmail and extortion will not work, and that it will not compromise its territorial integrity,” it said.

“A rat will not be pacified when we hesitate to pelt it for fear of smashing the vase beside it,” it added.


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