Palace: PH won't accept China sea law

The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 12 2014 10:38 AM | Updated as of Jan 12 2014 06:38 PM

MANILA - The Philippines will not recognize China’s new fisheries regulation which encroaches on the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and on international waters, Malacañang said yesterday.

The Palace also assured local fishermen of protection if they venture into high seas covered by international laws.

“I think that goes without saying and we have done it in the past,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said over radio dzRB.

Vietnam, through Foreign Ministry spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi, also condemned Beijing’s new fisheries rule, calling it “illegal and invalid.”

“Vietnam demands that China abolish the above said erroneous acts, and practically contribute to the maintenance of peace and stability in the region,” he said.

Valte said Filipino fishermen have the right to operate in the high seas because “no one, under customary international law, not a single state can subject the high seas to its sovereignty.”

She said the government was only seeking clarification from Beijing to avoid raising tensions further, “but certainly, the rules are clear, (we follow) international law when it comes to the EEZ that is under our jurisdiction.”

“We want to be careful about this and we want to make sure that we are acting accordingly on the correct information,” Valte said.

She said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) was correct to insist that clarification must be done even if China appeared to be unwavering in its position.

“I think everyone will agree that as reported, it does raise a point of grave concern for us,” Valte said.

Earlier, DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez described the Chinese restriction as a “gross violation of international law,” adding that it “escalates tensions, unnecessarily complicates the situation in the South China Sea and threatens the peace and stability of the region.”

“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.

China announced its new fisheries rule some two months after its declaration of an air defense zone over the East China Sea, particularly over a group of islands it is disputing with Japan.

China’s ADZ drew outright rejection from Japan, the United States, Australia and the Philippines.

‘Wrong mindset’

In Beijing, officials hit back at the United States on Friday for calling the move of China’s Hainan province to enforce new fisheries rule “provocative and potentially dangerous.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying voiced Beijing’s displeasure at the US in a press conference last Friday.

Based on transcripts of the media briefing, Hua said, “We are dissatisfied with and opposed to the remarks made by the US” through State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki.

Under the new rule, boats entering Chinese territory would face seizure of their catch and fishing equipment as well as fines of up to 500,000 yuan or $82,600.

“There is nothing wrong with the law but only because those who read into the law adopted a wrong mindset,” Hua said.

“If someone insists on accusing the technical amendment to a local fishery regulation that has been implemented for years as a threat to regional peace and stability, he or she either lacks common sense or is of ulterior motives,” she added.