The Philippines withdrew two ships from the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea on Saturday, citing inclement weather.

The Philippines and China both claim the area, which is known, respectively, as Bajo de Masinloc and Huangyan Island in each country, and the latest standoff between the two started in April, when the Chinese navy stopped the Philippines from arresting Chinese fishermen.

Since then, both nations have pulled out from the center of the shoal but kept ships in the general area.

On Monday, China applauded the Philippines for sending its ships away from Scarborough. China also towed some of its fishing vessels out of the area as the storm approached but reportedly left surveillance vessels behind.

We hope there will continue to be an easing in the situation and hope bilateral cooperation will recover and be safeguarded, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei stated. We hope the Philippines can exercise restraint.