China’s sweeping fishing regulation over the WPS violates international law –DFA

January 10, 2014 11:49 pm 

MANILA, Jan. 10 –The Philippines on Friday blasted China’s new fisheries regulation that exercises jurisdiction over a massive area of the disputed South China Sea, calling it “a violation of international law.”

The two Asian countries are locked in a long-running territorial rivalry.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said the new “law escalates tensions, unnecessarily complicates the situation in the South China Sea and threatens the peace and stability of the region.”

He added the Philippines has sought clarification from China on its fisheries law that took effect last January 1.

“We are gravely concerned by this new regulation that would require foreign fishing vessels to obtain approval from Chinese regional authorities before fishing or surveying in a large portion of the South China Sea,” Hernandez said.

The Philippines calls the body of water – the site of violent confrontations between China and other claimants – West Philippine Sea (WPS) to indicate its claim over areas within its exclusive economic zone.

“The Philippines is not the only country adversely affected by these regulation,” Hernandez said. “These regulations seriously violate the freedom of navigation and the right to fish of all states in the high seas as provided for under United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

Hernandez was referring to the 1982 accord that governs the use of offshore areas and sets territorial limits of coastal states. The Philippines and China were among the 163 nations that signed the treaty.

“Under customary international law, no state can subject the high seas to its sovereignty,” Hernandez said, saying the new law is another attempt by China to reinforce its expansive claim under its so-called nine-dash line.

Hernandez also said the regulation violates the spirit of a 2001 non-binding code of conduct that China signed with the Association of South East Asian Nations which urges claimants to avoid raising tensions in the area.

Beijing virtually claims the whole of South China Sea, which is dotted by clusters of islands, cays, shoals and reefs and teems with rich fishing areas. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have competing claims to the waters.

The vast sea is also believed to be rich in oil and gas and is regarded as among the world’s most strategic and busiest waterways.

China has received criticisms from Asian and western nations, led by the United States, over its rapidly expanding claim to the resource-rich waters.

The Philippines last year brought China before a United Nations-linked tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands to question its massive claim over the sea.

Beijing refused to join the proceedings, saying Manila’s assertions are baseless. (PNA)

PDS/MDC/UTB

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