Philippines ‘gravely concerned’ about China fishing rule

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), on Friday expressed strong concern about China’s new rule over foreign fishing vessels.

“We are gravely concerned by this new regulation that would require foreign fishing vessels to obtain approval from Chinese regional authorities before fishing or surveying in a large portion of the South China Sea,” DFA said in a statement.

The foreign ministry believes China’s unilateral declaration does not help solve the territorial dispute over the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea. The Philippines adds that it violates the United National Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“This development escalates tensions, unnecessarily complicates the situation in the South China Sea, and threatens the peace and stability of the region,” the statement said.

“This new law reinforces China’s expansive claim under the 9-dash line. It is a gross violation of international law, particularly UNCLOS, and is contrary to the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea,” it added.

China’s expansive 9-dash line virtually covers the entire South China Sea, which overlaps with exclusive economic zones and armed forces’ monitoring areas of the Philippines and other neighboring countries under the UNCLOS.

The Declaration on the Conduct of Parties, moreover, was signed by China with Southeast Asian countries in 2002.

The rule took effect this month, affecting 2 million of the South China Sea’s 3.5 million square kilometers (1.35 million square miles).

Meanwhile, U.S. earlier today said new restrictions by Chinese authorities on other countries’ fishermen in the disputed South China Sea are “provocative and potentially dangerous.”

Last Wednesday, Beijing also strengthened its police forces in the disputes maritime region, enforcing its rule requiring fishermen to seek Chinese authorities’ permission first.

The newly implemented bilateral law comes on the heels of the late November announcement of a new air defense zone requiring foreign planes to notify Beijing of flights over a huge swath of the East China Sea, where China is locked in a bitter territorial dispute with Japan. - with Associated Press

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