China Enforces New South China Sea Maritime Rules, Drawing International Criticism


China’s new maritime regulations, which empower its coastguard to detain foreigners for “trespassing” in the disputed South China Sea, took effect on Saturday, sparking controversy and pushback from neighboring countries. These rules allow the Chinese coastguard to detain foreign individuals for up to 60 days in “complicated cases” if they are suspected of violating border entry and exit management protocols.

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China’s expansive claims over nearly the entire South China Sea disregard competing claims from Southeast Asian nations such as the Philippines, and contradict a 2016 ruling by an arbitration tribunal in The Hague that declared China’s claims had no legal basis. Despite this, China has continued to deploy its coastguard and other vessels to patrol the waters, converting several reefs into militarized artificial islands. This aggressive posture has led to multiple confrontations with Philippine vessels, raising fears of a broader conflict.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. described the new rules as a “very worrisome” escalation. In response, the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs submitted legal filings to the United Nations asserting its maritime rights under international law to an extended continental shelf in the South China Sea, which it calls the West Philippine Sea.

Tensions have heightened as the Philippine government accused the Chinese coastguard of “barbaric and inhumane behavior” following incidents where Chinese vessels used water cannons against Philippine boats. These confrontations have resulted in injuries to Filipino soldiers and damage to vessels. Philippine military chief General Romeo Brawner assured fishermen to continue their activities within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), disregarding Beijing’s new regulations.

The Group of Seven (G7) also condemned China’s “dangerous” actions in the South China Sea, where overlapping claims by Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei add to the complexity. The strategic waterway sees trillions of dollars in ship-borne trade annually and is believed to contain significant oil and gas reserves. Additionally, it is a crucial fishing ground for the region’s growing populations.

China has defended its new coastguard rules, with a foreign ministry spokesman asserting that they aim to “better uphold order at sea.” Chinese defense officials have warned of limits to Beijing’s restraint in the region. The United States and its allies continue to challenge China’s claims by conducting freedom of navigation operations, which Beijing views as violations of its sovereignty. These operations have led to a series of tense encounters between Chinese and US forces in the South China Sea.

By Naija247news
By Naija247news
Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

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