The Chinese Foreign Ministry has explained to the Philippines that its new regulation in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) “is an implementation of China’s fisheries law and covers the jurisdiction of Hainan province” only.
Last week, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has asked for Beijing’s clarification regarding the new regulation that came into effect on January 1.
The department “reiterates its strong protest which we have made on 28 June 2012 since the jurisdiction of Hainan province included the [Philippine] territories and impinges on the” Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
“The Philippines calls on China to conform to international law particularly” United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).
This new regulation that require a foreign vessels to seek Beijing’s permission before entering the West Philippine Sea came amid rising tensions between China and Japan, as well as China and the Philippines, regarding the disputed regions.
Hernandez said the new fisheries law is a “gross violation” of international laws since no country can claim sovereignty over the high seas.
It also “escalates tensions, unnecessarily complicates the situation in the South China Sea and threatens the peace and stability of the region.”
“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,” Hernandez said.
The West Philippine Sea, a resource-rich region, is being claimed in whole by China, and in part by the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei Darussalam.
Last year, China imposed an air defense zone over the East China Sea, which houses small and uninhabited islands claimed by both Beijing and Tokyo.
The United States, Australia, Japan and the Philippines quickly rejected the move. BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON