Philippines Defiant as China Threatens to Arrest South China Sea "Trespassers"

China's new policy lets its Coast Guard detain foreigners for up to 60 days without trial if they cross China's claimed maritime borders.
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  • 11:56 AM, May 27, 2024
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Philippines Defiant as China Threatens to Arrest South China Sea
Filipino fishermen

The Philippines has voiced "serious concern" over China's recent policy of detaining individuals it deems as "trespassers" in waters it claims, labeling the move as a direct violation of international law.

In a statement issued Sunday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) of the Philippines emphasized that China cannot enforce its domestic laws within the territorial waters of a sovereign state.

"While every sovereign state reserves the right to formulate and enforce laws within its jurisdiction, these laws cannot extend to the high seas as per international law," the DFA asserted. It underscored that domestic laws of a state cannot encroach upon the territorial sovereignty or rights of other nations under international law.

The DFA specifically cited China's new regulations, which are based on its 2021 Coast Guard law, as problematic. This law purportedly expands China's maritime law enforcement powers, raising concerns about its application in disputed areas. Notably, the DFA highlighted the potential violation of international law if China enforces these regulations within the contested waters of the West Philippine Sea, an area where the Philippines asserts sovereignty and jurisdiction.

China's latest policy, outlined in its "Regulations on Administrative Law Enforcement Procedures for Coast Guard Agencies," grants the China Coast Guard authority to detain foreign individuals for up to 60 days without trial if they are perceived to have crossed what China claims as its maritime borders. This move follows a civilian convoy organized by the "Atin Ito" (This is Ours) Coalition to Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippines urged China to ensure that its legislation aligns with its international commitments, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea. Additionally, the DFA reiterated its call for China to comply with international law and refrain from actions that could destabilize the region.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. condemned China's new policy as "completely unacceptable," vowing to take necessary measures to safeguard Filipino interests amidst escalating tensions in the disputed waters.

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