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MANILA, Philippines - China's plans to sanction foreign vessels entering their territories in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) is a "threat to all countries," the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Saturday, December 1.
President Benigno Aquino III earlier said China's plan to board and expel ships "illegally entering" disputed waters violates the freedom of navigation.
Chinese state media reported the province of Hainan passed regulations that allow police to board and seize foreign ships entering Chinese territory.
Chinese media reports also said ships that enter Hainan’s waters without permission, damage coastal defense facilities, and engage in publicity threaten its national security.
The Chinese threats, according to a statement from the DFA, is "an excessive claim and a threat to all countries."
The DFA sought a clarification of the state media reports that talked about plans to "board, inspect, detain, confiscate, immobilize, expel, and impose other punitive actions on foreign vessels entering the waters under the jurisdiction of Hainan province, which is the entire South China Sea under the 9-dash line."
The President earlier said, “If we prove that there was indeed that order, it’s not just a proposal, we will lodge a diplomatic note or a formal protest and it also tells us where to go to in terms of advancing our interest.”
China's plan, said the DFA, was a "gross violation" of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DoC), international law, particularly UNCLOS.
"If media reports are accurate, this planned action by China is illegal and will validate the continuous and repeated pronouncements by the Philippines that China’s claim of indisputable sovereignty over virtually the entire South China Sea is not only an excessive claim but a threat to all countries," the DFA said.
"(It is) a direct threat to the entire international community as it violates not only the maritime domain of coastal states established under UNCLOS, but also impedes the fundamental freedom of navigation and lawful commerce," it added.
The DFA also called on ASEAN, other international partners, and the entire community of nations to condemn this move by China.
For her part, Palace Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the move to seek a clarification from China was part of the President's instructions on matters concerning the West Philippine Sea.
Malacañang is still awaiting a response from the Chinese government through the DFA. - Rappler.com