China is confirming a decision to allow Philippine fishermen access to a disputed shoal following a visit to Beijing by the country's president.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying says Beijing made "proper arrangements" regarding Scarborough Shoal after Rodrigo Duterte expressed concern about access.

China seized the shoal 228 kilometers (123 nautical miles) from the northern Philippines following a 2012 standoff between the sides, but Filipino fishermen say the Chinese coast guard allowed them to again fish in the area following Duterte's recent visit.

Hua told reporters Monday the issue had been handled "based on the friendship between China and the Philippines."

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Sunday a navy plane spotted at least four Chinese coast guard ships around the shoal during a surveillance flight on Saturday.