Gibo: Chinese rules vs South China Sea ‘trespassers’ a provocation

The Philippine Star
Gibo: Chinese rules vs South China Sea �trespassers� a provocation
Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro (center), Armed Forces chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. (left) and Navy chief Vice Adm. Toribio Adaci Jr. lead the celebration of the Philippine Navy’s 126th anniversary at the Navy headquarters in Manila yesterday.
Ryan Baldemor

MANILA, Philippines — China’s warning to detain foreign “trespassers” in what it considers its territorial seas is a provocation, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said yesterday.

“Now we live in a world of disinformation and maligned information. Is this a provocation? No, I believe what a provocation is, is the rubbish and irresponsible threat to detain ‘trespassers’ in what it claimed as internal waters but is actually part of the high seas and part of the West Philippine Seas by a country,” Teodoro said in a speech at the 126th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Navy.

“Such behavior is not only a violation of UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) but also a violation of the precepts of the United Nations Charter, which lays upon each responsible member-state the duty to refrain from the threat or the use of force or aggression to enforce, particularly in this case, illegal territorial claims in the maritime domain. That is a provocation insofar as I am concerned,” he stressed.

Under its new maritime regulation set to take effect on June 15, China is allowing its coast guard to detain without trial for 60 days any foreigner found “trespassing” in its territorial waters. China considers almost the entire South China Sea as its own.

In his speech, Teodoro also said China was resorting to “disinformation” to assail the Philippines’ cooperative military activities with allies, calling Beijing’s behavior “evidence of paranoia of a political system where motives, although clothed in sweet terms, are hidden behind the sweet terms and the ultimate intent is to get what they want by threat or the use of force.”

“This we cannot allow to continue and I’m very proud to stand here before you, that almost all our countrymen are united behind our efforts despite the challenges, despite disinformation, steadfast to our country, proud of our country, proud of our armed forces. From this I am sure you will not waver and you will not fail your countrymen,” he said.

The Philippines and China have had several maritime run-ins in the South China Sea in the past months that included the use of water cannons by Chinese coast guard vessels that damaged Philippine boats and injured crewmembers.

Responding to concerns, the Chinese foreign ministry said earlier this week the new rules were meant to protect the maritime order and that there was no need to worry if there was no illegal behavior by the individuals and bodies involved.

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