China and Philippines Push for Joint Fishing Rights in Scarborough Shoal During South China Sea Talks
Joint fishing rights for Beijing and Manila in the contested Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea could help deescalate the rising tensions between the two nations brought about by the maritime territorial dispute, according to a Chinese government official after talks with former Philippine President Fidel Ramos, Manila's special envoy for the South China Sea negotiations in Hong Kong.
Like Us on Facebook
Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, said last Thursday the talks with Ramos partly delved into various ways the two sides could make the resource-rich Scarborough Shoal open to fishermen from both nations.
Wu said the two sides could also jointly develop fish farms in the disputed strategic waterway, which is a rich fishing grounds.
"There are various cooperation plans the two countries can discuss. Fish-farming technology is not advanced in the Philippines, and China can help with that," he said.
Wu, however, was quick to point out that Manila has to respect and recognize first Beijing's sovereignty over the shoal before joint explorations between the two nations can materialize.
Last month, Filipino fishermen, who were fishing near the disputed Scarborough Shoal, were shooed away by the Chinese Coast Guard who used water cannons on them.
The fishermen were quoted saying that they have been fishing in the area for years and that they did not expect to be hosed down by the Chinese Coast Guard.
Ramos, who was on a five-day visit to Hong Kong for negotiations with Chinese government officials, held talks with Wu and National People's Congress chairwoman Fu Ying on the South China Sea issue a month after a Hague-based tribunal ruled that there is no legal basis for China's massive territorial claims in the disputed sea.
Wu said Ramos' five-day trip to Hong Kong could help deescalate the increasing tension in the region brought about by the conflict.
He added that Ramos and the working group have agreed that the former president would have to visit Beijing and talk to Chinese officials to lay the groundwork for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's first state visit to China.
Wu said Ramos discussed six areas of cooperation during the initial talks which included marine conservation and the fight against illegal drugs smuggling, among others.
Ramos said his talks with Wu and Fu Ying was held in a 'private capacity,' and he would have to report the developments to the Duterte government.
He said that President Duterte wanted 'formal talks' with the Chinese government on the South China Sea issue to lower the increasing tension between the two nations.
Ramos said he hopes that the formal talks would be held 'very soon.'
Arbitral court ruling
On July 12, the Permanent Court of Arbitration handed down a ruling rejecting China's massive territorial claims in the South China Sea.
The ruling was released three years after the Philippines filed its territorial case against China.
The court also ruled that China violated the Philippines' rights to explore resources in its exclusive economic zone.
Beijing boycotted the entire court proceedings saying it does not recognize the jurisdiction of the court.
China also rejected the ruling, dismissing it as 'illegal' and 'null and void.' President Xi Jinping said Beijing would not accept any future propositions and actions based on the ruling.