News / Asia

Philippines Denounces New Chinese Fishing Regulations

South China Sea Territorial Claims
South China Sea Territorial Claims
VOA News
The Philippines has denounced new Chinese provincial regulations that aim to restrict fishing by foreign vessels in disputed areas of the South China Sea.

In a statement released Friday, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said the new development "escalates tensions, unnecessarily complicates the situation in the South China Sea and threatens the peace and stability of the region."

Under the rules passed by China's southernmost province of Hainan, all foreign fishing boats must seek permission before entering waters claimed by Beijing.

The law, which went into effect January 1, covers more than half the 3.5 million square kilometer South China Sea, including parts claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam.

The U.S. and Vietnam have also criticized the new regulations.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday the move will raise tensions in the sea, which has seen a rising number of small-scale clashes in recent years.

"The passing of these restrictions on other countries' fishing activities in disputed portions of the South China Sea is a provocative and potentially dangerous act."

Psaki said it is the longstanding U.S. position that all sides avoid "unilateral action that raises tensions and undermines the prospect for a diplomatic or other peaceful resolution of differences."

An official representing Vietnamese fishermen said Thursday his country will lodge a protest against China's latest move.

Vo Van Trac, Vice Chairman of Vietnam Association of Fishery, said in an interview with VOA's Vietnamese service that Vietnamese fishermen strongly oppose China's rules and will continue fishing in areas in the South China Sea where Vietnam also claims sovereignty.

"The rules will obviously have an impact on our fishermen's lives," he said. "We will ask our fishermen to keep fishing. We will tell them those areas [in the South China Sea] that are within our sovereignty. The most important thing right now is to reassure them about that".

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying Thursday defended the move as unremarkable.

"China is a maritime nation, so it is totally normal and part of the routine for Chinese provinces bordering the sea to formulate regional rules according to the national law to regulate conservation, management and utilization of maritime biological resources," Hua said.

Sam Bateman, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said if Beijing were to follow through with the restrictions, there is a "good chance" of heightened tensions.

He added it would be difficult for China to enforce the policy because of the massive effort needed to patrol the area.

"This is not just surface ships, but also air surveillance of the area, because normally maritime surveillance and fishery surveillance of that nature is primarily carried out by air and then you use surface vessels to respond to any suspicious sighting."

Bateman, a retired rear admiral in the Royal Australian Navy, said the regulations go "beyond anything acceptable under the International Law of the Sea," making China vulnerable to legal challenges.

"I think if China tried to start enforcing the regulation, and particularly if it arrested a vessel, it would run fairly quickly into a legal dispute, which frankly I don't think China would have any chance at all of winning," Bateman said.

China's claims in the South China Sea overlap with those of ASEAN members Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. All four are seeking multilateral talks to resolve the disputes. But Beijing has said it will only hold one-on-one negotiations.

The United States does not take a position on the sovereignty disputes, but has consistently criticized Chinese moves it calls aggressive. Washington has also expanded military alliances with Southeast Asian nations involved in the disputes.

The fishing rules follow China's announcement last year of a new Air Defense Identification Zone over disputed waters in the East China Sea. The zone has drawn criticism from Japan, South Korea and the United States.

Analysts are now debating whether China will declare a similar zone in the East China Sea.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Vietnamese and Mandarin services.

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Comment Sorting
by: saucymugwump from:
January 14, 2014 12:08 PM
China is playing the exact same game Hitler played with his demand for lands with German-speaking people, e.g. the Sudetenland, just before the start of WWII in Europe. Historians agree that we should have denied his request, just as we must deny China's historically nonsensical claim that it owns the entire South China Sea. What we need is an Asian version of the Hanseatic League, with the Philippines, Australia, Vietnam, the USA, and other countries banding together to deny China's aggression.

The situation is complicated by the USA's backing of Japan in the East China Sea exclusion zones game. Japan was wrong to create an exclusion zone and we should admit that (it would also help if its emperor honestly apologized for the "comfort women"). No country should be allowed to monopolize the Asian seas. Both China and Japan are creating a situation where war could break out soon.

I have written a few articles regarding these issues on my blog.
In Response

by: saucymugwump from:
January 17, 2014 9:16 AM
@SEATO "Japan must unite all the ASEAN countries and form a military alliance"

You must be Japanese because you do not realize that Korea, China, and other Asian (and some Western) countries are tired of Japanese fascists like Abe Shinzo and Hashimoto Toru. Did you notice that Park Geun-hye first visited China instead of Japan as was traditional? Many people are angry at Abe's pose in a plane with the number 731, representing Unit 731, the worst group of sadists this side of Dachau. If Japan is not careful, it will end up with no allies. In that case, when the war between Japan and China starts, Japan will lose badly.
In Response

January 15, 2014 9:52 AM
Down with Chinese imperialists ! Japan must unite all the ASEAN countries and form a military alliance against Chinese territorial expansion ASAP.The Americans are always too reluctant when it comes to distant conflicts.They are still too busy arguing among themselves to see whether they should confront the Chinese and stop them from taking the South China Sea by force.A boycott of Chinese products would be a good start,although hard to implement.A big drop in export would hit the Chinese economy badly,create chaos back at home,and derive the Chinese of the essential funds for military developments and naval deployment.Vietnam should take China to the UN court like the Philippines.Keeping quiet,would make the Chinese more arrogant and aggressive in their quest for world domination.

by: GeoKoh from: Pac-rim
January 12, 2014 11:12 PM
In spirit of cooperation and coordinated, multilateral Code-of-Conduct, Philippines govt should take the lead and announce effectively immediately that she will begin asking all Filipino fishing vessels to voluntarily declare on open frequencies their intent to fish in respective areas (when outside of Territorial waters and within EEZ). This should be done with pride, showing leadership and willingness to promote greater cooperation in the heavily utilized region.

Hopefully it would set a trend and others would voluntarily join in practicing such a policy of cordial and professional information sharing.

Philippines should also consider proposing joint-maritime patrols for fishery-enforcement (in internationally fished and overlapping EEZ waters) and even general enforcement of suspected illegal activities such as drug trafficking, or other illegal smuggling activities and/or environmental crimes... Such joint-patrol operations could be coordinated bilaterally and/or multilaterally and evolve in scope over time.

My opinions, but I think this could be a huge opportunity for govt of Philippines to shine and take bold strides in assuming a greater leadership example and practice.

Good luck to all accomplishing mutually acceptable, equitable, cooperative codes of conduct. Respects to all parties in the disputed region. Chop chop.

by: Kamikaze from: Japan
January 11, 2014 10:31 PM
China has invaded Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Vietnam and many other countries, committing genocide and eradicating regional cultures. Nowadays, China still wants to invade and grab its neighbors' resources and assets to feed its own nationals. China should pay money if it wants other person's belongings. Today, Chinese invaded again Japanese Senkaku waters. Chinese foolish behaviors are irritating even sensible Japanese people and making them to alter their Pacifist constitution in order to justify fighting with and driving out the pirate China.
In Response

by: stupidcomment from: China
January 15, 2014 9:31 AM
"China has invaded Tibet, Inner Mongolia"...This stupid statement is the same as " USA has invaded Texas, California"... How can a country invade his own province or state? And how can a country who never apologizes for its invasion blame another on invasion? Honestly, there are some disputes between china and other countries, but it is always safe to say, as replacing "China" by "Japan", such that

" Japan has invaded China, Korea, and many other countries, committing genocide and eradicating regional cultures. Nowadays, Japan still wants to invade and grab its neighbors' resources and assets to feed its own nationals. Japan should pay money if it wants other person's belongings. "

In Response

by: frankychang from: CHINA
January 14, 2014 8:11 PM
You have right to make comments,but you must look before your leap.OK?
In Response

by: l
January 13, 2014 7:42 AM
reflect on your own historical behaviors and then make comments.

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
January 11, 2014 3:18 PM
Great move China!
Vietnam and Finos should feed their starving ppl first, leave China sea alone. Fighting against mighty China is really stoopid!
In Response

by: remie from: canada
January 13, 2014 7:33 AM
Who u fooling ,they highest poverty that is why cheap stuff is made there because of cheap rate not including pollution haha.
Ok, let's talk history , oh yeah China does not want to bring solid history to world because they have none. Vietnam is presenting solid proof such as maps printed by China, Europe, etc.etc and displaying it to world. REAL HISTORY
Yep and cannons r fine too haha
In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
January 12, 2014 1:17 AM
Remie. China is the second biggest economy in the world. Chinese ppl is getting fat just like Americans, lol I don't believe they are still starving after 30 years fast growing, thanks to the communist party.
And if you don't want to talk about history, alright let's talk canons then! Lol
In Response

by: remie from: canada
January 11, 2014 5:20 PM
China is also starving and they r over populated and that is why u r here . Also learn some real history instead of that "ancient time" balony.

by: Eduardo Linares Batres from: Guatemala
January 11, 2014 9:25 AM
What else can you expect from “Communist” China, ruled by an illegitimate politburo clique that has no mandate from its people? Because of the invasion and annexation of Tibet, the millions dead in purges, famines and murders, the recent bullying ways over the Senkaku Islands, one cannot expect a civilized and ethical behavior of such a country.
In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
January 11, 2014 4:55 PM
Don't be jealous. South America is so poor. Communism is the only solution for you, or you just keep corrupt and poor!
Democratic India is also corrupt and poor. I am glad China has the communist and so will be the superpower!

by: alan currie from: Philippines
January 11, 2014 12:56 AM
Hands off Philippine fishing rights , the Philippine fishermen are poor enough already. Live and let live.

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