China yet to clarify new sea rules — DFA
China has yet to clarify the scope and limitations of a new rule that will allow the boarding and seizing of foreign ships that will pass through the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Wednesday.
“We have not yet received any clarification from China on the reported Hainan law,” Raul Hernandez, Foreign Affairs spokesman, said.
The new rule, which took effect on Jan. 1, will authorize Chinese police to board vessels deemed to be breaking the law off the southern island of Hainan province.
The new regulation sparked widespread concern among Southeast Asian nations as tensions continue to increase between China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam.
It has raised concerns among the claimant-countries that Chinese police will be allowed to board foreign ships anywhere in the disputed waters
The Foreign Affairs department immediately sent an inquiry regarding the Hainan regulation after state media announced it in November last year.
Hainan is the province that has jurisdiction over China’s extensive claims in the West Philippine Sea.
On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said that the Hainan rule would not deviate from the regulations being enforced there since 1999. The regulation limits the enforcement within 12 nautical miles of Hainan’s coast.
But even with such a clarification from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the Philippines’ Foreign Affairs department said it is waiting for the formal response to its inquiry, which aims to understand any new rule being enforced in the contested waters.
China has claims on the entire West Philippine Sea, which overlaps the same claims being made by the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam. ___
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