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Chinese fishing boats depart from South China Sea to diffuse stand-off

Manila, Sun, 15 Apr 2012 ANI

Manila, Apr 15 (ANI): The Chinese fishing boats at the midst of a dangerous climacteric have left a disputed shoal in the South China Sea.

The departure of the last five Chinese fishing boats diffused the stand-off, but left the Philippines in an embarrassed state, who had insisted on confiscating the fishermen's alleged illegal catch of endangered giant clams, corals and live sharks.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario confirmed that the Chinese fishing boats departed late Friday from Scarborough Shoal, off the northwestern Philippines, the Wall Street Journal reports.

He also accused China of flying an aircraft near the Philippine frigate, and said that a "white Chinese ship harassed a Philippine-registered vessel with nine French nationals, which has been conducting archaeological surveys."

"It appears there is an element that is lacking in our negotiations. I seek a deeper element of trust from our Chinese friends," Rosario was quoted as saying, who confirmed that Philippines will be monitoring the situation at the shoal further.

He said that his meeting with Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing "resulted in a stalemate," with both sides insisting that the other nation's ship be the first to leave the area.

Both sides claimed the uninhabited, horseshoe-shaped shoal, which lies 230 kilometers (124 nautical miles) from Zambales province, the nearest Philippine coast, which triggered the impasse.

The impasse, which began Tuesday had Chinese ships preventing the Philippine navy from detaining Chinese fishermen allegedly caught poaching.

The situation has re-ignited concerns about potential conflict in the South China Sea, one of the world's busiest seas lanes and home to competing territorial claims

The disputes have settled into an uneasy standoff since 1988, when a major clash between China and Vietnam left over 70 Vietnamese sailors dead. (ANI)

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