MANILA – In an effort to strengthen its claim to the disputed West Philippine Sea, China has enforced tighter regulations on its waterways, according to an official Chinese government website.
According to China.org.cn, foreign fishermen must now ask for the permission of Beijing before being allowed to operate in China’s waters.
“The new rules demand that foreign vessels seek permission to fish or survey within waters administered by Hainan, China's southernmost island province, which looks out over the South China Sea.”
The new rule, which was implemented at the start of 2014, marks China’s second attempt to establish tighter security measures over its contested territories.
On November last year, the Chinese government set up an air defense zone which required foreign planes to notify China of incoming flights before being allowed to land on Chinese soil.
Meanwhile, Philippine government officials are still seeking to determine the validity of the new regulation.
Department of National Defense (DND) Spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez said, “We will have to verify statements regarding this alleged fishing rules by China.
Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. echoed Galvez’s statement.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs has asked our embassies in Beijing and Hanoi to verify this report. At hinihintay pa po natin ang ulat ng DFA hinggil sa bagay na iyan.”
The officials, on the other hand, assured that the Philippines is ready to protect its natural resources should the need arise.
“Nonetheless, all countries are free to enforce fishing rules within their own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Likewise, the defense establishment is ready to assist in enforcing the maritime rules in the Philippine EEZ; we will enforce the protection of our resources,” said Galvez.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provides a coastal country a 200-mile exclusive economic zone. Incidentally, some areas in the disputed Spratly Islands occupied by China are inside the country’s EEZ.