China to probe alleged harassment of Filipino fishermen in S. China Sea

BEIJING — China will also look into reports that Filipino fishermen have been driven away allegedly by the Chinese Coast Guard from Union Bank in the South China Sea, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Friday.

”I honestly do not know anything about what you said. You yourself mentioned that the vessels are unidentified, and all sides are in the process of verifying the situation. China also needs to check on that,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said during a press conference.

The Philippines’ foreign affairs and national defense departments are still confirming media reports on the harassment of the Filipino fishermen.

Lu said China will continue to work with the Philippine side to “properly” resolve the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea maritime and territorial dispute under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte.

”Our position on the South China Sea issue is consistent and clear. We would go on working with the Philippine side to properly deal with relevant maritime issues and create favorable conditions for the sound and steady development of bilateral relations,” he said.

He reiterated that the bilateral relations between the Philippines and China have turned around and started to improve quickly “with all-around cooperation moving forward steadily”.

Five months after his election, President Duterte visited China in October last year at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

President Duterte is scheduled to return to Beijing next month to participate in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

”Overall, both sides are able to build upon the consensus of the two leaders and manage maritime issues through negotiations and coordination,” Lu said. Jelly Musico/PNA –