Is China Sincere In Moving Off Pag-asa Island?

Chinese fishing vessels near the Philippines’ occupied Pag-asa island have reportedly left!

President Rodrigo Duterte’s newly appointed special Envoy, Ramon Tulfo said that last week 100 Chinese militia boats were “withdrawn” from waters off Pag-asa Island following backchannel talks.”

 

Proving Sincerity

“China can prove its sincerity in resolving territorial disputes with the Philippines by refraining from sending back its fishing vessels to a Filipino-occupied island in the South China Sea, a maritime law expert said Wednesday.”

Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines (UP) Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea said that there were some 270 Chinese ships around the area last year, which means that there will still be around 170 ships there

“Chinese vessels may have left the area because of a fishing ban from May to August, and could return when the typhoon season ends in November or December,” he said.

 

Will They Return?

Although many people believe that this is not the end, some are still positive that the Chinese vessels will be out for good.

“The only reason why they won’t return would be if China itself restrains them if China itself doesn’t deploy them anymore. It’s a test of China’s sincerity,” Jay said.

“If they’re really serious about reducing the chances of incidents, trying to promote an atmosphere of cooperation and stability in that area, then they should not be deploying such massive numbers of fishing vessels,” he said.

President Duterte, who set aside a United Nations-backed tribunal’s 2016 ruling that invalidated Beijing’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea, has encouraged improved ties with China.

However, now that Manila’s legal leverage diminished because of the island building and resource harvesting of China, we might have missed the best time to raise the ruling.

“The best time to raise the ruling, he said, was in 2017 when the Philippines chaired the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.”



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