PH rallies ASEAN vs China fishing law

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Calling for 'regional solidarity,' the Philippines hits China during the 10-member bloc's first 2014 meeting

KICK-OFF. For the first time this year, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario (first from left) and his ASEAN counterparts meet in Bagan, Myanmar. Photo by AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Hitting China, the Philippines called for “regional solidarity” Friday, January 17, in the face of China’s new law requiring foreigners to seek its permission to fish in the disputed South China Sea.

Speaking before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Myanmar, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario also slammed China for its air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea. The ADIZ subjects aircraft to China’s laws within areas claimed by Japan, and imposes “defensive emergency measures” on violators. (READ: Complicating the complex: China’s ADIZ)

“Clearly, in addition to unilateral measures to change the status quo and threats to the stability of the region, these latest developments violate the legitimate rights of coastal and other states under international law,” Del Rosario told ASEAN counterparts.

Del Rosario said this at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat, the 10-member bloc’s first meeting this year. It’s the first to be chaired by Myanmar, a former pariah state now on its road to democracy. (READ: Myanmar steps into international role at ASEAN helm)

For the Philippine foreign secretary, China’s fisheries law and its ADIZ “violate the legitimate rights of coastal and other states under international law.”

In particular, he said these regulations break the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the principles of freedom of navigation and overflight, and the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

‘Gravely concerned’

Through earlier statements, the Philippines has protested the fisheries law and the ADIZ.

“We are gravely concerned by this new regulation that would require foreign fishing vessels to obtain approval from Chinese regional authorities before fishing or surveying in a large portion of the South China Sea,” the DFA said last January 10. (READ: PH slams China law on fishing boats)

“This development escalates tensions, unnecessarily complicates the situation in the South China Sea, and threatens the peace and stability of the region,” it added.

The DFA also denounced the ADIZ, which “transforms the entire airzone into its domestic airspace, infringes on the freedom of flight in international airspace, and compromises the safety of civil aviation and national security of affected states.”

“The Philippines calls China to ensure that its ADIZ preserves regional security and stability,” the DFA said.

The Philippines fears China will apply the ADIZ to the South China Sea.

The Southeast Asian country has filed a historic case against China over disputed portions of the sea, which it claims as the West Philippine Sea. (READ: PH lawyer on China: Being ‘int’l outlaw’ has its price) –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email