China allays fears of conflict over Chinese vessels near Pag-asa Island


China is prepared to cooperate with the Philippines to verify the alleged presence of Chinese vessels near Pag-asa Island and handle the issue through “friendly and diplomatic channels,” allaying fears of an outbreak of conflict over the issue.

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua made the assurance after the Philippine government moved to protest more than 200 Chinese vessels that sailed near the island located in the West Philippine Sea.

“As for what is happening, who are there, we are cooperating with the Filipino side to verify whether there is any truth to that kind of report,” Zhao said in an interview with reporters in Malacañang.

“I know there are fishermen from both sides. But whether the number is 600, whether they are surrounding the island that you have people, it is really up to further investigation and verification,” said Zhao, who was at the Palace for a meeting with Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo.

Zhao assured that there was no need to worry about any “outbreak of conflict” since both countries have agreed to deal with the South China Sea issue peacefully.

“We’ve been handling this issue through friendly and diplomatic channels so you don’t have to worry about whether there will be kind of an outbreak of conflict or not. You don’t have to worry about that,” he added.

Zhao remained confident that the matter would be resolved through diplomatic means. He said China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ line of communication with the Philippine’s Department of Foreign Affairs has always been open.

“We would like to communicate our respective concerns with each other through the proper channel, but I have noticed that there are media reports that have been already denied by relevant departments in the Philippines so we have to verify media reports whether they are authentic or not, that’s the first step,” he said.