FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2015, file photo, Chinese Coast Guard members approach Filipino fishermen as they confront each other off Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, also called the West Philippine Sea.(AP Photo/Renato Etac, File)
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Chinese vessels have left the contested Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, a Philippine official said Saturday, less than a week after President Rodrigo Duterte visited Beijing pledging closer ties.China took control of the Scarborough Shoal, 230 kilometers (140 miles) from the main Philippine island of Luzon, in 2012, driving Filipino fishermen away from the rich fishing ground, sometimes using water cannons.On Friday, Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana said: "If the Chinese ships have left then it means our fishermen can resume fishing in the area".However the foreign affairs department said they had yet to verify that Chinese vessels had left the shoal.
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