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China, Phl to meet on disputed seas
A government official on Saturday said the Philippines welcomed China's inclination to dialogue and meet halfway regarding the fishing policy imposed by Beijing in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Speaking for the government, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda pointed out it was the Philippines that had set the tone for discussion by seeking clarification from China on the fishing rules.
"We made the first move. We asked them, we wanted to seek clarification," Lacierda told the state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan (People’s Radio) in an interview.
Since the Philippines had sought clarification on the issue, Lacierda stressed that the government was not surprised when China agreed to dialogue on the matter.
Besides, he said the Philippines is talking about international waters and its exclusive economic zone.
"We're precisely talking about international waters, about our EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). That's why there was a need for clarification. It's not surprising they want to dialogue with us," he said.
The Philippines had earlier defied the so-called fishing policy, which requires local and foreign vessels to get permission from Beijing before passing through the disputed territory.
Government vessels have also been escorting Philippine fishing boats to protect them if needed.
But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei was quoted in news reports that China is resolute in defending its sovereignty, though it will put forth efforts to resolve the relevant issue through dialogue and consultations.