Philippines protests China's new coast guard law
MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has filed a diplomatic protest with China over its new law authorizing its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels and destroy structures in the East China Sea and South China Sea.
“After reflection I fired a diplomatic protest,” Locsin tweeted yesterday, days after initially saying it was “none of our business.”
“While enacting 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,” he added.
The new law also authorizes the Chinese Coast Guard to inspect foreign vessels in waters claimed by China.
Former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario slammed the new law authorizing the Chinese Coast Guard to fire on foreign vessels.
“In the wake of the new US administration and 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 with violence,” Del Rosario said in a statement.
China law slammed
Meanwhile, lawmakers slammed China’s new maritime law and urged the government to raise the issue with the international community.
“I worry for our fishermen…who will venture out into that coast. The law further provides that the Chinese Coast Guard is empowered to set up temporary exclusion zones. These are lockdown zones as needed to stop other vessels and personnel from entering,” Sen. Francis Tolentino warned.
“That’s very unfortunate because it creates more instability in the West Philippine Sea and the entire region. The government should warn our naval vessels and our Air Force to be on guard, and even our commercial and fishing vessels for that matter,” Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said.
“This is the arrogance of a country that still considers itself the Middle Kingdom and an empire. This is an unacceptable encounter. China should stop its bullying tactics. ASEAN member-states should band together and show China that we will not be bullied into deference,” Sen. Risa Hontiveros said.
The Senate committees on foreign relations and on national defense and security are set to hold a joint inquiry – possibly in executive session – into the implications of the law and make recommendations on possible courses of action. – Paolo Romero