DFA: China’s rule on trespassing foreigners inconsistent with UNCLOS

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
DFA: China�s rule on trespassing foreigners inconsistent with UNCLOS
A Chinese diplomatic vehicle leaves the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila on December 11, 2023.
AFP / Jam Sta. Rosa

MANILA, Philippines — China’s rule allowing the detention of foreigners believed to have trespassed what it claims to be its borders is inconsistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters in Taguig City, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo refuted the claim that Filipinos maliciously misinterpreted the new Chinese regulation, which was reportedly adopted on May 15.

“(China) announced it, it was quite clear so, I mean, what’s malicious (about) it?” Manalo said.

“We have to see what will happen, but obviously whatever they said, if that’s correct, is inconsistent with the UNCLOS,” he added.

Previous reports have said that China, whose expansive maritime claim in the South China Sea was voided by an international arbitral court in 2016, has permitted its coast guard to detain violators of its exit-entry regulations for up to 30 days.

The period may be lengthened to 60 days if their case is more complicated, according to the reports.

President Marcos has described China’s rules as “unacceptable.”

“That kind of action would be completely unacceptable to the Philippines... I do not talk about the operational details, so we will leave it to us. But the position that we take is that, that is unacceptable and we will take whatever measures to always protect our citizens,” Marcos said in a media interview in Makati last Saturday.

The Philippine Coast Guard has maintained that no one can stop Filipinos from sailing to the West Philippine Sea, the portion of the South China Sea inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

In the same interview, Manalo said that he has not received any instruction from Marcos on how to go about the investigation into the alleged audio recording about the supposed deal between Manila and Beijing on Ayungin Shoal.

“No, no, no... I have not received any instruction. If we find any evidence, obviously, we will take whatever action might be considered necessary,” Manalo said.

“No one’s given us any evidence yet. But obviously, there is, then we have to take appropriate action,” he added, noting that If there is any issue that will require summoning Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian, it will be considered.

In a recent interview, Marcos said that the government would probe the alleged wiretapping of the Chinese embassy against a ranking official of the Philippine military.

“We are looking into it because the fact of the matter is, there have been mentions of a tape that confirms that there was this agreement,” the Chief Executive said last Saturday. — Michael Punongbayan

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