MANILA, Jan. 18 (PNA) — Malacañang on Saturday welcomed China’s willingness to dialogue and meet halfway on fishing rules in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
But presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda pointed out it was the Philippines that had set the tone for discussion by seeking clarification from China on Beijing’s fishery rules.
“Certainly maganda mag-dialogue. Tayo ang nauna (We made the first move), we asked them, we wanted to seek clarification,” Lacierda said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.
He said Manila is not surprised that China is willing to dialogue on the matter, since the Philippines had sought clarification.
Besides, he said the Philippines is talking about international waters and its exclusive economic zone.
“We’re precisely talking about international waters, about our EEZ. That’s why there was a need for clarification. It’s not surprising they want to dialogue with us,” he said.
Earlier, the Philippines had said it will defy the so-called rules, with government vessels escorting Philippine fishing boats to protect them if needed.
But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei was quoted in news reports as saying China is resolute in defending its sovereignty, though it will “put forth efforts to resolve the relevant issue through dialogue and consultations.” (PNA)