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Chinese fishermen shrug off South China Sea arbitration award

2016-July-13       Source: Xinhuanet.com

The award by an arbitral tribunal in the South China Sea arbitration on Tuesday has barely sent a ripple to islanders who have fished there for generations.

The award by an arbitral tribunal in the South China Sea arbitration on Tuesday has barely sent a ripple to islanders who have fished there for generations.

China neither accepts nor recognizes the award of the arbitration case,according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

On Tuesday, 37 fishing boats carrying hundreds of fishermen from Tanmen Township in south China's Hainan Province, were working around the Nansha Islands, according to local fishery authorities.

Tanmen has almost 5,000 fishermen, including nearly 1,000 who regularly work in the Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha island groups and surrounding waters. Historical data shows that Tanmen fishermen started to explore the South China Sea islands in the late 17th century, at the latest.

"The result means nothing and we don't care about it," said fisherman Lu Jiabing, 66. "We have fished in this sea for generations. The award can neither change that fact nor stop us going there." said the 66-year-old from Tanmen.

His opinion is shared by Wang Shumao, another Tanmen fisherman, who said he would continue to fish in the waters "without hesitation."

"My grandfathers and his fellows worked in the Nanshas in the early 20th century. At that time, they seldom saw counterparts from other countries," Wang said.

Fisherman Wang Zhenfu said Tanmen fishermen are very familiar with the islands and reefs, because they have a long tradition of working there. "Despite unjust eviction and detention by other countries in recent years, we're still there."

Pang Fei, Communist Party of China chief of the township, said the award would have little effect.

The local government will continue China's policy on the sea and help local fishermen however they can, Pang said.

"I don't see why the Philippines has the right to deny our history," said Su Chengfen, 82. Since retiring from fishing, Su has been making wooden models of sailing boats, one per month.

"I want more people to know about the history of our South China Sea fishermen," Su said.

Editor: Nan

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