The online news portal of TV5
MANILA – China has confirmed the removal of all government vessels from the disputed Scarborough Shoal.
"The Chinese side is in direct communication with the Philippine side on appropriate settlement of the situation. It has been learned that there is no Philippine government ship in the lagoon of Huangyan Island," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin in a statement sent through the Chinese embassy in Manila.
"The Chinese public service ships have been deployed to the Huangyan Island waters and performing duties based on law enforcement, management and service needs on site," he said, explaining the presence of the Chinese government ships in the area.
Huangyan Island is the name that the Chinese give the Scarborough Shoal. The Philippines calls it Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc.
However, some 30 Chinese fishing boats remain in the lagoon despite the Chinese summer fishing ban in the waters east of China, which China calls the South China Sea and which the Philippines calls the West Philippine Sea.
To this situation, Liu Weimin said: "Operation of the Chinese fishing boats in the lagoon is normal, without being interrupted again."
For its part, the Armed Forces of the Philippines welcomed the reported pullout of Chinese ships at the disputed Scarborough Shoal.
AFP spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos said that if confirmed, the pullout was a "significant development as far as diffusing tensions in the area."
"We continue to support the peaceful initiatives of the government," he said.
The so-called Scarborough standoff which started April 10 appears to be nearing resolution with the latest developments.
With reports from Veronica Uy and Abigail Kwok, InterAksyon.com