Answers by the Spokesman of the Chinese Embassy to Some of the Questions on Huangyan Island Incident

1. Q: How did Huangyan Island Incident Happen?


A: Huangyan Island area has been the traditional fishing ground of Chinese fishermen for generations. Twelve Chinese fishing boats were harassed by a Philippine Navy ship in the lagoon of Huangyan Island in the morning of April 10. The Chinese side lodged representations with the Philippine side.


2. Q: What's your comment on the Philippines' claim on the sovereignty of Huangyan Island?


A: Huangyan Island is China's territory. It is China that first discovered this island, gave it the name, incorporated it into its territory, and exercised juristiction over it.


The Philippine territory is set by a series of international treaties, including the Treaty of Paris(1898), The Treaty of Washington(1900) and the Treaty with Great Britain (1930), none of which ever referred to Huangyan Island or included this island into its territory. Until 1997, the Philippine side has never disputed China's juristiction of and development on Huangyan Island. On the other hand, the Philippines indicated on a number of occasions that Huangyan Island was beyond its territory.


According to the international law, including United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea(UNCLOS), the Philipines' claim of the juristiction rights and sovereignty rights over Huangyan Island with the arguments of Exclusive Economic Zone(EEZ) is groundless. UNCLOS allows coastal states to claim a 200-nautical-mile EEZ, but coastal states have no rights to infringe on the inherent territory and sovereignty of other countries. The Philippines asserts that Huangyan Island is closer to its territory, but in fact "geographical proximity" has long been dismissed by the international law and practice as the principle of the solution of territory ownership.


3. Q: What is China's stance on this incident? What is the situation right now?


A: The Chinese side holds that peace and stability should be maintained at Huangyan Island area, with fishing undisturbed. China and the Philippines have differences over the sovereignty of Huangyan Island, but after several rounds of consultations, both sides agreed not do anything to complicate or aggravate the situation.


Since this incident happened, the Chinese side has been in contacts with the Philippine officials at various levels including Foreign Secretary Del Rosario both in Beijing and Manila. Both sides agreed to settle the incident through diplomatic means. In view of the complex situation in that area, which involved Navy ship, public service vessels, and fishing boats, China's fishing boats left on April 13 in order to help defuse the situation.


However, the Philippine side hasn't withdrawn its ships. As of 2pm of April 16, there were still boats remaining at that area. Unexpectedly, an archaeological vessel was found in the lagoon conducting salvage archaeology, this infringes on China's rights, and violates relevant international conventions. These above activities by the Philippine side raised further grave concerns of the Chinese side on the situation there.


4. Q: The Philippine side said a Chinese surveillance ship had harassed a Phlippine-registered archeologial vessel with 9 French nationals on aboard. What's your comment?

A: There is, indeed, an ancient Chinese wreck ship in Huangyan Island area, of which China has the ownership. In accordance with relevant international conventions and Chinese laws, it is illegal to conduct salvage activities without the permission of the Chinese government. We urge the archaeological vessel leave the area immediately.


5. Q: The Philippine side asserted that there arrived another Chinese surveillance ship in Huangyan Island area on April 14th, which is interpreted that China is taking actions to aggregate the situation. What's Your comment?


A: The Chinese public service vessels are conducting legitimate patrols for law enforcement in Huangyan Island area. The incident is resulted from the infringement by the Philippine Navy Flagship Gregorio del Pilar, and the Philippines' coast guard vessels still remain there. In this context, the Chinese public service vessels have to stay there to watch out the situation. We urge the Philippine side to withdraw all of their vessels from Huangyan Island area, and restore peace and stability there.


6. Q: What's your comment on the reports that the Philippine side has found  endangered maritime spicies in the Chinese fishing boats?


A: In protecting the endangered maritime spicies, the Chinese side has always educated its fishermen to abide by relevant Chinese and international laws and regulations. The relevant Chinese authorities will, as always, administer, investigate, and prosecute any violations in accordance with above-mentioned laws.


7. Q: How do you think the situation will develop?


A: Departing from our good will of developing friendly relations with the Philippines, we are ready to engage in further discussions with the Philippine side and try our best to settle the incident properly.

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