- Marcus seeks to introduce the “Map of Fishing Grounds” to China
- Marcos says the Philippines will not be used for military action
MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said China has agreed to discuss fishing rights in the South China Sea, as he pushed for a “direct line of communication” with Beijing over maritime disputes.
China has agreed to “sit down” and talk about fishing rights for Filipinos in the South China Sea, Marcos said, adding that he has asked the Philippine Coast Guard and the Department of Foreign Affairs to “put together … a map of these fishing operations” that will be presented to Beijing.
In remarks made to reporters while on a plane to Washington, Marcos also said that a “direct line of communication” between the Philippines and China should be adopted once and for all, when asked about his thoughts on the recent naval confrontation between the two countries.
“The overarching priority is protecting our maritime territories,” he said in remarks released by his office on Monday.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Philippines accused the Chinese coast guard on Friday of “aggressive tactics” following a recent incident during a Philippine coast guard patrol near the Philippine-controlled Than Thomas Shoal, a flashpoint for past disputes located 105 nautical miles (195 km) off its coast.
The United States urged China to stop harassing Philippine ships in the South China Sea, while Beijing said it was ready to deal with maritime disputes with the countries concerned through friendly consultations, while Washington warned against interference.
“That’s the kind of thing we … hope to avoid, and this time it was a little more dangerous because they were so close,” Marcus said. This could cause casualties on both sides.”
China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, with a “line of nine dashes” on maps that extends more than 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) from its mainland and intersects the exclusive economic zones of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. and Indonesia. An international arbitration award in 2016 rejected this line because it had no legal basis.
Before his May 1 meeting with President Joe Biden in Washington, Marcos also said he would not allow his country to become a “stepping stone” for military action.
China Manila said it was stoking the fire of regional tensions after it recently allowed Washington access to more military bases in the Philippines, with Beijing accusing the United States of meddling in its affairs with Taiwan.
(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz)
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