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Thursday, June 13, 2024

China warns arrest of trespassers in SCS

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PCG spokesperson says it’s an empty threat


China issued a regulation that authorizes the arrest of “foreigners” in the disputed maritime territories, including the South China Sea, beginning June.

Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson for the WPS Commodore Jay Tarriela immediately denounced China’s directive, calling it “illegal.”

“These are things that we can say are illegal actions again by China,” Tarriela said.

“The mere fact that they claim full sovereignty over our own exclusive economic zone and the only thing they justify is their imaginary nine-dash line,” he added.

In a report published by the South China Morning Post on Thursday, the China Coast Guard warned that under the regulation, they can detain trespassers in the South China Sea without trial.

The regulatory document is expected to take effect in June.

“Foreigners suspected of illegally passing China’s borders can be held for up to 60 days,” the newspaper reported.

The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines has yet to make an official response when sought for comment on the report.

But according to Tarriela, he does not think China is serious in arresting civilians in the area because other claimant-countries, such as Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia, would also criticize Beijing’s actions.

Besides, Tarriela said it can be considered harassment if China arrests civilians from other countries.

“These attempts to arrest fishermen within our own EEZ can be considered as just mere harassment because based on international law and UNCLOS, we have sovereign rights over these waters,” he said.

“China does not have those sovereign rights to justify the supposed arrest of our Filipino fishermen,” Tarriela added.

The report on China’s new regulation to arrest civilians in the South China Sea came out after the voyage of the 100-boat Philippine civilian flotilla to the WPS, which its organizers had described as “mission accomplished.”

China continues to assert its massive claims over almost the entire South China Sea, which overlaps with the West Philippine Sea that had been upheld in 2016 by the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration as part the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Meanwhile, Tarriela described as “overkill” China’s deployment of several Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels around Scarborough Shoal, also called Panatag Shoal, during the Atin Ito civilian mission voyage.

There were about 10 China Coast Guard vessels, 10 Chinese maritime militia ships and a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) vessel in the vicinity of Panatag Shoal, he said.

“It was a different layer of security near the shoal, and another layer from 30 nautical miles and another layer from 30 to 40 nautical miles. This means they were really paranoid,” he said.

“Most likely it was an overkill on the part of the Chinese Coast Guard to deploy such large number of China Coast Guard because they themselves believe in their own lies… this is the highest so far in Bajo de Masinloc,” Tarriela added.

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline
“China threatens to ‘arrest foreigners’ in South China Sea.”

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