FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday filed a diplomatic protest against China’s new law allowing its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels that will venture on Chinese-claimed reefs.
Locsin objected to the newly-passed law that also allows Chinese Coast Guard to demolish other countries’ structures “sitting” on Chinese-claimed reefs in the South China Sea.
“After reflection I filed a diplomatic protest. While enhancing law is a sovereign prerogative, this one – given the area involved or for that matter the open South China Sea – is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies the law, which if unchallenged, is submission to it,” Locsin said on Twitter.
Sen. Ana Theresia Hontiveros has cautioned about China’s new law and urged the Department of Defense (DND) to immediately create a strategy for it and when the Chinese Coast Guard uses force in the contested waters.
“The next thing we know, Chinese coast guards might not only block, but also shoot at our own boats,” the senator said in a statement.
Hontiveros called on the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) to reach a consensus and to take multilateral action to stop China’s “incessant adventurism.”
She believes that China plans “to isolate and divide the countries around it so it can deal with them individually through bilateral talks, maximizing its relative advantage in resources and power against any one of its neighbors.”
“China should stop its bullying tactics. Asean member-states should band together and show China that we will not be bullied into deference,” Hontiveros said.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan also assailed the passage of the same Chinese law. “We reject and do not recognize foreign laws that encroach on our territorial seas and exclusive economic zone.”
“Indonesia and Vietnam refuse to be intimidated. I adamantly refuse to believe that they are braver than we are, and I firmly believe that ours is not a nation of cowards,” Pangilinan said.
Former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario, in a statement, said, “In the wake of the US (United States) administration and [Chinese] Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recent visit to the Philippines, the decision of the Chinese leadership to authorize its coast guard to fire on its neighbors’ vessels is a sobering reminder to the world that China remains adamant in pressing its illegal claims in the South China Sea, now with force and probably violence.”