China and the Philippines end standoff | News | DW | 14.04.2012
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China and the Philippines end standoff

China and the Philippines have reportedly ended their week-long standoff in an area in the South China Sea to which both countries lay claim.

A six-day marine standoff between China and the Philippines apparently came to a close on Saturday.

The standoff started last Sunday, when Filipino authorities reportedly intercepted 8 Chinese poacher boats and demanded they hand over their catch.

Chinese officials saw the encounter as harassment to its nationals and responded by dispatching three larger surveillance vessels to Scarborough Shoal - located around 230 kilometers (124 nautical miles) from the Filipino Zambales province - which the Philippines claims as its territory. Manila, in turn, deployed its largest navy ship.

Despite Saturday's breakup, with the ships leaving with their catches - reported to consist of clams, corals and sharks - reports from the Philippines on Saturday said a Chinese ship had returned to the area and harassed a Filipino civilian vessel.

"It appears that there is an element that is lacking in our negotiations," Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosarion told reporters, referring to Friday's negotiations, which ended in a 'stalemate,' as both sides insisted the other leave first.

China has disputes with several Asian countries over territories in the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas and is criss-crossed by important nautical routes.

There is concern over clashes in the region prompted by what many consider to be China's growing assertiveness in its claims to territories. The last major standoff happened between China and Vietnam and claimed the lives of 70 Vietnamese sailors in 1988.

sb/ng (AFP, Reuters, AP)