Philippines accuses China of escalating water dispute
Beijing, May 24 (ANI): The Philippines has accused China of escalating tensions in a disputed portion of the South China Sea after claiming that dozens of Chinese vessels had been deployed despite a freeze on fishing.
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said that it had expressed 'grave concern' to the Chinese Embassy after the number of Chinese vessels increased around the Scarborough Shoal in the past few days.
A statement from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said that by Tuesday there were about 76 Chinese utility boats in the area, Wall Street Journal reports.
The statement also accused China of having illegally dredged in the area, which threatened marine biodiversity.
"It is regrettable that these actions occurred at a time when China has been articulating for a de-escalation of tensions and while the two sides have been discussing how to defuse the situation," the statement read.
Foreign Affairs Department spokesman, Raul Hernandez, said that Chinese fishermen continued to operate in the area even though China had issued a temporary ban on fishing there on May 16.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, has, however, said that about 20 Chinese fishing vessels were in the disputed area, which China refers to as Huangyan Island.
Hong said Chinese fishing vessels were operating in the area in accordance with the moratorium.he standoff began early last month after Chinese ships blocked Philippine authorities from arresting Chinese fishermen accused of operating illegally in the area.
The Philippines has suggested United Nations mediation of the dispute, which is rejected by China, which prefers dealing with territorial disputes on a bilateral basis. (ANI)
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