Days after he met with Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua, incoming president of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte finally revealed to the public some details of the closed-door meeting.
According to a report from a Manila-based news agency GMA News, Duterte asked China, through Zhao, to allow small-time Filipino fishermen to fish in the highly contested waters in South China Sea. It can be recalled that the two countries have been embroiled in after the Philippines filed a territorial dispute before the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
Duterte, who showed interest in holding bilateral talks with the Chinese over the South China Sea row, said he coursed through his plea to the Chinese ambassador that small-time fisher folks be allowed to fish in the area without being harassed.
“I said to let go, don’t harass these fishermen. That spells food security for the Filipino. If you disallow troll fishing, commercial fishing, I would understand. But those in bancas, don’t harass them because they too need to eat,” Duterte was quoted as saying by the GMA News.
It was later confirmed by a Filipino official that there have been no incidents of harassment from Chinese coast guard reported in the past days. This, according to the official, indicates that situation in the region has started to improve.
As earlier reported by the Morning News USA, Zhao refused to elaborate what were the things discussed during the closed-door meeting with the Philippines’ incoming president. Zhao, who appeared, elated when he went out of the meeting room responded the queries from the local media with a smile.
“We had a very good conversation. The Chinese side is looking forward [to working with] him and his team to further enhance our bilateral relationship,” Zhao told reporters.