With China's new law vs foreign ships, Palace hopes no country would worsen WPS tensions
This Jan. 14 2020 photo shows the visiting vessel of China Coast Guard (CCG) 5204 at Pier 15 in Manila
Xinhua/Rouelle Umali

With China's new law vs foreign ships, Palace hopes no country would worsen WPS tensions

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - January 25, 2021 - 6:14pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday expressed hope that no country would do something that could worsen the tensions in the South China Sea after China adopted a law allowing its coast guard to fire on foreign ships.

China, which is embroiled in a dispute with the Philippines and four other claimants in the South China Sea and with Japan in the East China Sea, passed last week a law that permits its coast guard to "take all necessary measures" to stop foreigners from infringing upon its jurisdiction at sea.

The law, which was approved as the world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, allows the Chinese coast guard to destroy structures built by other countries on Beijing-claimed islands and reefs. It also allows the coast guard to board and inspect foreign ships in waters claimed by China. 

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said while sovereign countries can pass laws, it should comply with its obligations in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, of which China is a signatory. 

"Under general international law, the use of force is generally prohibited except for two well-defined exceptions. By way of self-defense, there should be sending of armed troops into the territory of China and the use of force should be necessary and proportional; and when authorized by the UN Security Council," Roque said at a press briefing. 

"We hope no country involved in the West Philippine Sea issue would worsen the situation," he added, using the name that the Philippines gave to the South China Sea area it is claiming. 

Roque reiterated the need for a binding code of conduct for claimants in the South China Sea, where $5 trillion worth of goods passes through every year.

"The declaration of our president is we should finish the code of conduct and all claimants in the West Philippine Sea should follow the code of conduct," the Palace spokesman said.

China claims about 90 percent of the South China Sea while the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, and Taiwan have overlapping claims. In 2016, a Hague-based arbitral court invalidated China's maritime claim in the South China Sea and affirmed the Philippines' sovereign rights over its exclusive economic zone. The Chinese government has refused to recognize the ruling, calling it "illegal" and dismissing it as a "mere piece of paper." 

Japan also has a maritime row with China, with the two countries claiming the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

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