The warning came despite a recent ruling by an UN-backed tribunal in favour of the Philippines, as it dismissed China’s territorial claims to large swathes of the waters.
Beijing angrily rejected the court’s judgementand it announced penalties for “illegal” fishing in its waters including the disputed areas. “We are aware that China is occupying Scarborough Shoal, so let us wait for clarity on how our fishermen can return there without being subjected to harassment anymore,” Manila’s foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose told reporters. Jose said that while the tribunal ruling was clear, the “reality on the ground” was different. “The reality is that China is there so we must discuss this,” he said. Asked if this meant Filipino fishermen should avoid the shoal for now, Jose said: “This is for the safety of everyone.”