(Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei's responses to some of the questions asked by media with regard to a Huangyan Island incident in May 14-15, 2012. Translated by Chinese embassy in Manila.)
Q: The Bureau of Fishery Administration in the South China Sea Region of the Ministry of Agriculture has announced that starting from 16 May, most areas in the South China Sea, including the Huangyan Island waters, will start a summer fishing moratorium for two and a half months. Does this have anything to do with the current situation at the Huangyan Island? Will China’s fishery administration vessels and maritime surveillance vessels withdraw? Some netizens say that this indicates preparation for military actions against the Philippines. How does China respond?
A: The fishing moratorium has been an administrative measure adopted by the competent Chinese departments for many years. The purpose is to protect the maritime biological resources in the related waters, having nothing to do with the current Huangyan Island incident. You may refer to the competent departments for specific details about the fishing moratorium system. China has expounded on our positions on the Huangyan Island incident for many times. Our position of committing to diplomatic consultation to settle the issue remains unchanged.
Q: It’s been reported that the Philippine Foreign Secretary Del Rosario recently said that the Philippines will not agree to China’s demands with respect to the Huangyan Island issue and diplomatic dialogue with China will achieve a ‘temporary’ result at best rather than any ultimate solution to the issue. The Philippine side has put forward an overall approach that includes political, legal and diplomatic means to address the Huangyan Island issue. How does China comment?
A: We have already made it very clear about China’s principles and position on the Huangyan Island issue. The Chinese side urges the Philippine side to concretely respect China’s territorial sovereignty, refrain from any practice that may magnify and complicate the situation, and in particular, keep to diplomatic consultation to address the situation instead of continuing to stir up public opinion and deliver self-contradictory information.
Q: Some Chinese netizens are suggesting military means to address the Huangyan Island issue. What’s your response?
A: The Chinese government is firmly determined to defend China’s territorial sovereignty over the Huangyan Island. At the same time, we are committed to addressing the current situation at the Huangyan Island through diplomatic consultation.
Q: It’s been reported that the Philippine President Aquino III said that he believes the tension over the Huangyan Island will “soon be resolved”, and hinted that it is perhaps not necessary now to submit the Huangyan Island issue to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). How does China comment?
A: We have just read the related report. Our related stance remains unchanged. The Chinese side hopes that the Philippine side will address the current situation at the Huangyan Island through diplomatic consultation with the Chinese side.