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Ships leave disputed area with alleged illegal haul of coral, clams and sharks.
The Philippines had to watch as five Chinese ships left Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea with their disputed catches today, The Associated Press reported.
The development ends a tense standoff between the two nations that started on Tuesday.
Chinese vessels blocked Coast Guard ships trying to arrest Chinese fishermen said to be catching endangered coral, giant clams and black-tipped sharks.
China claims all of the South China Sea, while the Philippines said the boats were within a 200-mile economic exclusion zone established by the United Nations.
Philippine Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario and Chinese ambassador Ma Keqing attempted to work out a diplomatic solution to the situation, Gulfnews.com reported.
The Philippines wanted to confiscate the cargo, while China said the fishermen would be subject to Chinese law.
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“The meeting with Ambassador Ma (Friday night) resulted in a stalemate,” del Rosario said, according to GulfNews.com. “We had demanded of one another that the other nation’s ship be first to leave the area.”
Del Rosario said he was disappointed with China’s reaction, with reports one Chinese ship and an airplane returned to the area, The Philippine Star reported.
He said the Chinese were harassing a ship carrying nine French scientists doing archaeological work.
“It appears that there is an element that is lacking in our negotiations. I seek a deeper element of trust from our Chinese friends,” del Rosario said, according to the Star.
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