The Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), on Friday, said it is “strongly opposed” to any application of China’s new coast guard law beyond Beijing’s maritime entitlements stated under the international law and the 2016 arbitral ruling on the West Philippine Sea (WPS or South China Sea).
In a statement on the latest developments on the WPS issue, the DFA reiterated its previous position on the Chinese legislation that allows its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels it sees violating its sovereignty or jurisdictions.
“While enacting a law is a sovereign prerogative, the geographic area of coverage of China’s claims directly poses a threat to the conduct of Philippine legitimate activities in the West Philippine Sea, which, if unchallenged, is acquiescence,” it said. “The Philippines strongly opposed any application of China’s Coast Guard Law beyond the limits of China’s maritime entitlements under international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2016 Award on the South China Sea arbitration.”
The DFA, however, noted that there is “no need” for the country to raise the controversial Chinese law before The Hague or any international tribunal, saying Manila’s 2016 arbitral win has been established.
“The win of the Philippines in the Arbitral Award in 2016 is already established under international law and has been recognized by numerous states. There is no room for interpretation as there is no issue on the maritime rights and jurisdiction on the West Philippine Sea that demands the resort to an international court to resolve,” it said.
Meanwhile, the department pointed out that any threat or attempt at enforcing legislation in contrast with international law is “objectionable, illegal, and negates efforts to ensure peace, security, and stability in the South China Sea.”
Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian, in a recent television interview, said the new Chinese coast guard law “will not take strong measures against any fishermen – before or after the formulation of the law.”
Beijing’s so-called “nine-dash line” covers almost 80 percent of the South China Sea, claiming a large part of the exclusive economic zones of several littoral states, including the Philippines.
In 2016, The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration declared this invisible demarcation as illegal, saying it has no legal basis in international law.