PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Chinese fishing boats did not enter Malaysian waters, China's ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang said on Tuesday (April 5), four days after he was summoned by Kuala Lumpur over claims that 100 Chinese vessels were fishing in Malaysia-claimed waters of the hotly disputed South China Sea.
Dr Huang said in a statement the fishing boats were in fact "quite far away" from the Qiontai Jiao, popularly known as the Luconia Shoals.
He claimed Chinese fishermen had been fishing in the area since for the past 600 years, since the time of Admiral Zheng He, the Ming dynasty court-sanctioned explorer known for his expeditions in South-east Asia.
"It is true that there are overlapping claims between China and Malaysia over certain islands and reefs in the South China Sea, which is a historical issue," Dr Huang said in a statement as reported by The Star.
Dr Huang added that he believed that both countries could deal with the issue in "an amicable, peaceful and quiet way".
Last week, a statement by the Foreign Ministry said it had called up Dr Huang to "seek clarification as well as to register Malaysia's concerns over the matter".
Dr Huang said he had made a courtesy call on the ministry's deputy secretary-general Datuk Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob on April 1.
He congratulated Muhammad Shahrul on his recent promotion and discussed China-Malaysia relations and cooperation between both countries with him.
Dr Huang pointed out that China, who is Malaysia's top trade partner, valued its relations with Malaysia highly, adding that bilateral ties were not built easily.
"China hopes that both sides will work together with joint efforts to increase political trust, enhance mutually beneficial cooperation, intensify people-to-people exchange, and promote cooperation in national defence and security in order to eventually become trust-worthy friends and reliable partners and make greater contributions to the peace, stability and development of the region," he said.
Malaysia’s maritime authorities said last month it had shadowed up to 100 Chinese boats that were fishing off Sarawak from March 24 to 27.
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency said that the boats were found via aerial surveillance. It released photographs of the vessels, including two Chinese coast guard ships.