The Philippine coast guard says its Chinese counterpart has rescued two Filipino fishermen in bad weather in a disputed shoal in a show of how once-frosty relations have improved after President Rodrigo Duterte reached out to revive ties with Beijing.

Philippine coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo said Friday that Chinese coast guard officials notified them of the rescue in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal off the northwestern Philippines and asked how the two can be handed over to Filipino authorities.

Balilo says a patrol ship was sent to pick up the rescued Filipinos from the Chinese coast guard but large waves were preventing the transfer in high seas.

China seized the shoal in 2012 but ties have improved after Duterte met President Xi Jinping in China in October.