Philippines-China relations

Philippines to ignore new China maritime law within West PH Sea

Jairo Bolledo
Philippines to ignore new China maritime law within West PH Sea

CHALLENGED. Photos of the Philippine Coast Guard ship challenging through radio communication the Chinese maritime militia vessels spotted in Sabina Shoal near Palawan.

Philippine Coast Guard

The new Chinese law requires vessels passing through the South China Sea to provide information, including positions of their vessels, to Chinese authorities

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Philippines did not recognize the new Chinese maritime law, which mandated foreign vessels in the South China Sea to “report their detailed information” to China.

“Our stand on that is we do not honor those laws by the Chinese within the West Philippine Sea because we consider that we have the sovereign right within this waters. So we will not recognize this law of the Chinese,” Lorenzana said during the 70th anniversary event of the Mutual Defense Treaty on Wednesday, September 8. 

Effective September 1, the Chinese government had amended its 1983 Maritime Traffic Safety Law that now required vessels passing through the South China Sea to provide information, including positions of their vessels, to Chinese authorities, the Chinese-run Global Times reported on September 6. 

There are at least five types of vessels that need to notify China. This includes submersibles, nuclear vessels, ships carrying radioactive materials, ships carrying bulk oil, chemicals, and harmful substances, and ships tagged by China as “harmful” to their maritime traffic. 

However, the new law does not encompass the West Philippine Sea because the 2016 Hague ruling already invalidated the non-existent nine-dash claim of China in the region. The ruling upheld the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea principle, which states that all maritime features located within a country’s exclusive economic zone, rightfully belong to that country. 

Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said on Tuesday, September 6, that the Philippines will not acknowledge China’s efforts to impose reporting requirements.

“What reporting requirements? We’ve not heard of any requirements nor would we care if there are any; the West Philippine Sea comprising our EEZ (exclusive economic zone) is ours. Period!” Locsin said.

The United States, one of the Philippines long-time allies, also said that the new Chinese law won’t affect their operation in the Indo-Pacific. The US has also been proactive in dealing with Chinese intimidation in the past months under the administration of President Joe Biden. 

The US says it military vessels passing through the South China Sea is part of its exercise to assert freedom of navigation in the contested waterway.

Philippines to ignore new China maritime law within West PH Sea

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said during his visit in Singapore in July that China’s claims have no basis in the international law: “Beijing’s claim to the vast majority of the  South China Sea has no basis in international law…we remain committed to the treaty obligations that we have to Japan…and to the Philippines in the South China Sea.” 

After his 7-day visit in Southeast Asia, US Vice President Kamala Harris also said that China continues to intimidate other countries to back its claims in the region. Harris’ visit in the region is part of the US’ continuous protest against China. – with a report from Sofia Tomacruz/ Rappler.com

Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering the police, crime, military, and security.