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China sends vessel to help pull out Chinese fishermen from Panatag Shoal


(Updated 3:50 p.m.) - China has sent out a vessel to help pull out Chinese fishermen and their boats from the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines said Sunday.
 
"Due to the inclement weather and strong tide in the Huangyan Island (Panatag Shoal) waters, in order to help Chinese fishermen and fishing boats pull out safely for shelter, Nanhaijiu-115 vessel has set out to the area to provide necessary assistance," the Embassy said in a statement posted on its website on Sunday.
 
The Chinese Embassy, however, did not elaborate any further.
 
The development came after the Palace said China is expected to pull out its ships from the shoal after President Benigno Aquino ordered the PCG and BFAR ships in the disputed area to head to port, citing bad weather conditions brought by Typhoon Butchoy (Guchol).
 
China reportedly has seven government ships outside the lagoon core of the shoal, while at least 20 fishing boats are supposedly inside the lagoon, a possible violation of the indefinite fishing ban at the shoal both countries imposed separately.
In a statement issued on Monday, Chinese Embassy spokesman Zhang Hua welcomed the country's pullout of ships from the shoal.
 
"The Chinese side has been urging the Philippine side to take measures to de-escalate the situation. We have noticed the withdrawal of government vessels by the Philippine side, and hope this action will help ease the situation," it said. –KG, GMA News
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