MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Sunday said that instead of a "partnership", Manila and Beijing had an agreement in which "China will not stop our fishermen from fishing" despite ongoing tensions in the West Philippine Sea.
Former National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos on Friday said the Philippines was studying China's proposal for a "partnership between fishing villages."
But Marcos said, “I don’t know how the word 'partnership' started to be used. It’s really an agreement that China will not stop our fishermen from fishing."
"That’s it, very simple. They will allow our fishermen to fish, in the fishing grounds that they have used for many generations,” he reporters en route to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
China and the Philippines are at odds over the South China Sea, with Beijing claiming sovereignty over almost the entire area despite an international court ruling that its claims have no legal basis.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have overlapping claims to parts of the sea, and Manila ordered its military last month to boost its presence in the contested waters after a report that China had started reclaiming several unoccupied land features around the Spratly Islands.
In a visit to Beijing this month, Marcos and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping both called for "friendly consultation to appropriately resolve maritime issues."
Xi told Marcos that China wished to "contribute more positive energy to regional peace and stability" and "promote cooperation on oil and gas development in non-disputed areas," according to China's state-owned broadcaster CCTV.
The 2 sides also discussed working together in fields including agriculture and medicine, CCTV reported, and signed a host of agreements for cooperation in infrastructure, fisheries, tourism and other areas.
— With a report from Agence France-Presse