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Taiwan scholar anticipates calm in China-Philippine conflicts

2012/05/14 21:50:39

Taipei, May 14 (CNA) China's announcement of a two-and-a-half-month fishing moratorium in the South China Sea, which will start on May 16, is expected to ease a standoff between China and the Philippines over a disputed island in the area, a Taiwan researcher said Monday.

Song Yann-huei, the convener of the South China Sea research group at the Academia Sinica, said he believes the moratorium is Beijing's strategy for calming the rising sovereignty disputes over Huangyan Island.

Huangyan Island, also called the Scarborough Shoal, is located some 500 nautical miles southeast of China's Nanhai Island and about 100 nautical miles west of the Philippines' Subic Bay.

Song said he thinks although the disputes over Huangyan Island have sparked strong protests of people in the two countries, both Beijing and Manila know such a conflict, which was sparked by nationalism, is serving neither of them.

In the future, the two countries are expected to reduce their direct conflict over the disputed island as they try to resolve the problem through diplomatic negotiations, the scholar said.

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture announced that starting at noon on May 16, a 10-week fishing moratorium will be imposed in the South China Sea area north of 12 degrees north latitude, during which time all kinds of fishing operations -- aside from fishing with gill nets and angling -- will be banned.

The fishing ban covers some 820,000 square kilometers of sea area in the region, according to the ministry.

The standoff between China and the Philippines over Huangyan Island in the South China Sea began a month ago. Song said he thinks the sovereignty dispute will not end soon with signs showing the Philippines will take the problem to the security dialogue platform of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

He also believes there won't be military conflict between China and the Philippines during the upcoming moratorium period.

(By Chai Ssu-chia and Elizabeth Hsu)