Filipino fishermen may be able to return to the China-held Scarborough Shoal in a few days, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said, following his discussion on the territorial rift in the South China Sea with Chinese leaders during his trip to Beijing last week.
During discussions, Duterte said he insisted to his Chinese counterparts that the shoal off the Philippines’ northwestern coast belonged to his country. He noted, however that the Chinese also asserted their claim of ownership.“Let us just wait for a few more days, maybe we could return to Scarborough Shoal,”
he said during a speech in Manila on Saturday.
China, however, has yet to indicate whether it would lift its four-year blockade of the shoal, according to Reuters.
“I’m not sure if they will fulfill (what was discussed),”
The president was addressing the matter during a speech Saturday in Tuguegarao City where he handed out aid to victims of Typhoon Haima
He did not, however, offer further details on the discussions, including whether China imposed any conditions on the possible return of Filipino fishermen to Scarborough, where they have been driven away by Chinese coast guard ships for years.
Duterte was in Beijing last week to cement ties with China
and forge a new commercial alliance amid his country’s deteriorating relationship with the United States, a long-time ally of the Philippines.