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Philippines: New Chinese Coast Guard Rules An “Escalation, ‘Worrisome’


Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. expressed concerns on Wednesday regarding new regulations announced by China’s coast guard, which he described as an escalation and “worrisome.” These regulations, set to take effect on June 15, stem from a 2021 coast guard law and would permit the detention of foreigners suspected of illegal entry in the South China Sea. This area is contentious, with China and several other nations, including the Philippines, having ongoing maritime sovereignty disputes.

China routinely accuses vessels of trespassing in areas of the South China Sea that fall inside the exclusive economic zones of its neighbours and has clashed repeatedly with the Philippines in the past year.

“The new policy of threatening to detain our own citizens, that is different. That is an escalation of the situation,” Marcos told reporters while on a state visit in Brunei.

The Philippines “will use any point of contact with China to stop aggressive actions” and allow Filipino fishermen to fish in the South China Sea, Marcos said.

If aggressive actions are managed, Marcos said, “then we can go all about our business in a peaceful way”.

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Marcos has taken a tougher line than his predecessor over China’s actions in the South China Sea, emboldened by support from defence ally the United States, as well as Japan and Australia.

China’s embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Beijing claims jurisdiction over most of the South China Sea, a conduit for more than $3 trillion in annual ship-borne trade.

In 2016, an international tribunal ruled that China’s extensive claims in the South China Sea lacked legal basis under international law, a verdict that Beijing has not accepted. China maintains that historical documents and ancient maps confirm its sovereignty over the majority of the sea and its islands.

With Inputs From Reuters