MANILA - China’s new law allowing its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels may be a domestic legislation, but it presents a threat not just to the safety of ordinary Filipino fisherfolk but also the country’s food security, an international studies professor said Thursday.
“The most basic are fisherfolk, our poor, marginalized fisherfolk with their wooden outriggers being confronted by steel Chinese coast guard vessels sailing all the way from Hainan Island just to prevent our ordinary fishing folks from earning their living,” Renato de Castro of the De La Salle University said on ANC's Matters of Fact.
Beijing claims almost the entire resource-rich South China Sea and refuses to recognize a landmark arbitration award that invalidates it.
De Castro said China's coast guard law would deprive the Filipino people of their livelihood and threaten food security.
“This is a clear example of how our food security is threatened by the action of China,” he said.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila had said the law was a "normal domestic legislative activity of China."
“Like other countries, you have laws regarding the coast guard. The point I am emphasizing is the Chinese coast guard is different from all other coast guards in the world,” De Castro pointed out.
“The role of the Chinese coast guard is to advance China’s maritime interest which is based on maritime expansion—to ensure China’s control not only of the South China Sea but what you call the First Island Chain, including the East China Sea,” he said.
He believes China is not constrained to implement this even with “this administration’s effort of appeasement.”
“China’s goal is to effect no matter what other countries would try to do even friendly countries like the Philippines under this administration,” De Castro said.
The professor said he is glad that two Cabinet members—Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana—are speaking against the Chinese law.
Last month, Locsin filed a diplomatic protest against the law. He said enacting this "is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies the law; which, if unchallenged, is submission to it."
Lorenzana, along with the new Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, would deploy greater naval assets, noted De Castro.
“That’s high time that we have to show the flag. Not just the Philippine Navy, more importantly the 12 coast guard vessels that Japan donated to the Philippines and are rotting in the ports because they are not being deployed by the Philippine Coast Guard in the South China Sea,” he said.
He warned Beijing will do everything to take control of areas it claims.
“Let’s not doubt it. They will control it and will do everything necessary. Give this about 3, 4 or 5 years then you will see them implementing this. This is part of what you call protracted warfare. They’re used to it. The Chinese communist party won the revolution through a long protracted war. This is also what we are seeing as China expands its claim in the South China Sea,” De Castro said.