DFA and Chinese sources said Campbell suggested a simultaneous withdrawal of vessels from Panatag Shoal to de-escalate the tension.
A DFA official said United States Ambassador to Manila Harry Thomas relayed to Del Rosario that Beijing has agreed to a simultaneous withdrawal.
This is the “agreement” Del Rosario said Beijing reneged on. He referred to this agreement in several statements.
Chinese sources said what happened in Washington was that Fu Ying told Campbell she would relay the suggestion to Beijing.
Bejing said they would “gradually pull out” of the disputed shoal. “There was never a commitment for a total pullout,” a Chinese source said, explaining that “they have a domestic audience to consider.”
China has always been against the intervention of the U.S. in conflict in Asia and sources said the Chinese officials did not appreciate it that the Americans were negotiating for the Philippines.
Based on Thomas’ confirmation, Del Rosario ordered the pullout of Philippine vessels in the middle of the night. By morning, the President was displeased that Del Rosario had made that order. So he called Trillanes to ask the Chinese why their ships remained in the area when the Philippines had already pulled out.
Trillanes was unaware of such an agreement coursed through the U.S. Following the President’s orders, he called his counterpart in China to follow the Philippine move, since both countries had already agreed on a “simultaneous pullout.”
The Chinese sent word to Aquino, through Trillanes, that they would issue a statement to explain the back-to-port order of their ships, and asked that they be given 48 hours to relay the orders to appropriate agencies in Beijing.
Aquino departed for London and the U.S., relieved that the tension had de-escalated.
The Philippines said it pulled out its ships to safety because of the bad weather in Scarborough Shoal. China for its part said they will go back to port to re-supply.
But before China could complete the pullout, the DFA issued a statement accusing China of reneging on an agreement. This angered China, which insisted there was no such agreement.
“First off, the commitment has always been to deescalate tensions; to always be sensitive about what is being said. Second, we will defer to the DFA to respond to that particular issue,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
“We have been very consistent throughout this dispute in supporting international law in settlement of dispute, so we continue to support China and the Philippines to settle the issue through international means,” said Yamamoto.