DFA checking China’s new maritime regulation on WPS

January 8, 2014 11:27 pm 

By Michaela del Callar

MANILA, Jan. 8 (PNA) — The Philippines is checking on reports of a new Chinese regulation requiring foreign vessels to seek China’s permission before entering the South China Sea where Manila and several Southeast Asian nations have overlapping claims.

“We are verifying the news with our embassies in Beijing and Hanoi,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said in a text message on Wednesday.

The new regulation, which is likely to heighten tensions anew in the region, came after China announced an air defense zone over a group of islands it is disputing with Japan in the East Sea, which triggered protests from the United States, Japan and the Philippines.

The order – seen to bolster China’s massive claim over the waters – was issued by Hainan provincial government and took effect on January 1.

Under the regulation, foreign vessels entering the waters, which was declared by China as part of Hainan’s administrative maritime zone, are required to seek approval from Chinese authorities.

Competing claims to the South China Sea, a strategic waterway believed to be sitting atop huge gas and oil deposits, have sparked occasional violence and now regarded as a potential regional flashpoint for armed conflict.

Manila has adopted the name West Philippine Sea for parts of the South China Sea that are within its exclusive economic zone.

China’s persistent incursions and massive claim to the waters has prompted the Philippines to challenge Beijing’s assertion before a United Nations-linked international tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.

China refused to join the arbitration, saying the Philippine case is groundless and carries unacceptable allegations. (PNA)

CTB/MDC/UTB

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