World Bulletin/News Desk
The Philippines has pulled back two vessels from a group of rocks disputed with China because of bad weather, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Saturday, ending a two-month standoff between the two sides, at least for now.
Lightly armed Philippine coast guard ships had since April taken turns to escort a civilian fisheries boat guarding the mouth of Scarborough Shoal, a group of rock formations about 124 nautical miles west of the Philippines' main island of Luzon.
At one time, China had nearly 100 civilian surveillance ships, fishing vessels and smaller utility boats in the area, raising tension in the South China Sea, threatening trade, tourism and political relations between the two sides.
On Friday, the Philippines said China still had 26 ships and fishing boats in Scarborough against the two from the Philippines - one a coast guard vessel and the other a fishing boat.
"Last night, President (Benigno) Aquino ordered both of our ships to return to port due to increasing bad weather," spokesman Raul Hernandez told reporters, quoting Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario.
"When weather improves, a re-evaluation will be made."
China has territorial disputes with the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan across the South China Sea, each searching for gas and oil while building up their navies and military alliances.
Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau says pollutants emitted by vehicles in city will be cut by as much as 30 percent by 2022
Police say muezzin has been killed and three worshippers wounded in the shooting, a rare attack on minority Shiite Muslims
Provoking anger and amusement, Taiwanese flag appeared alongside in ISIL propaganda video released listed Taiwan as one of Washington's 'close counterterrorism partners' in Asia-Pacific
China calls for peace and stability after Japan, US agree to continue drills in disputed sea
Minister says violence not the answer as police hunt continues for ISIL militants in mountains of Indonesia's north
Haroon Bhatti, founding member of outlawed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group, was arrested in Dubai last month and brought back to Pakistan
Muslims in Myanmar have been banned from printing their own calendars, with senior Buddhist monks imploring for stricter sentencing on the publisher and his associates.
PM Abe says Japan to pledge $10.6 billion for climate policies in developing countries
'Tragic but avoidable accident (was) caused primarily by human error,' General John Campbell says
Japanese, US officials decide to hold joint exercises in contested sea amid China's maritime expansion
'Seven people - six pilgrims and the lady pilot - died in the crash,' a police official says
Residents rush for open space as tremors shake cities across region
Former Muslim rebel group orders officials to combat illegal drugs, while communist insurgents launch similar campaign in nearby provinces
More than 70 Pakistani journalists and other media workers have lost their lives since 2001 while pursuing their duties
Obama says he invited leaders from ASEAN to the US, insisting that good ties with Asian nations were 'absolutely critical' to US security
The two opposition leaders, Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury were hanged shortly after President Abdul Hamid rejected their mercy petitions