South China Sea: China implements maritime rules to regulate international ships in disputed waters
Tensions remain in the South China Sea in the midst of the chaos surrounding the recent Afghanistan withdrawals. China has raised tensions in the disputed waters as of late as Beijing puts a new maritime law in place.
China claims the majority of the South China Sea, but its claims overlap with partial claims of the surrounding countries. An international tribunal ruled against China’s so-called historic claims, saying that there was no legal basis for said claims. China has insisted on them anyway and recently introduced the Maritime Traffic Safety Law that looks to regulate international vessels that enter Chinese waters.
Under the said law, foreign ships are required to carry permits and inform the Chinese maritime authorities of their entry. Foreign ships will also have to report their call signs and cargo before they enter Chinese-controlled waters. China’s Maritime Safety Administration admitted that the new laws would apply to foreign vessels that are suspected of being a threat to the country’s maritime safety.
Chinese experts told the state-affiliated news outlet Global Times that the laws are there to protect the country’s national security at sea. However, according to Taiwan’s Institute of National Defense and Strategic Research Defense Strategy and Resources director Su Tzu-Yun, Beijing considers China’s maritime jurisdiction to apply even beyond its own waters.
Su went on to claim that this gives China an excuse to respond to navigation exercises that are being carried out by other countries present in the South China Sea. Taipei Times also said that China’s new laws increase the concern of a possible military conflict involving the waters.
Among the countries that are angered by China’s sweeping claims of sovereignty over the South China Sea is the Philippines. Previously, the head of the Philippine Armed Forces visited an island occupied by the Philippines in the disputed waters last June. AFP chief Cirilito Sobejana visited the island to commend the soldiers for their service in protecting the island and its residents as well as “guarding the country’s territories” in the South China Sea.
This visit follows the diplomatic protests by the Philippines against the illegal presence of Chinese vessels within its Exclusive Economic Zone.