China Embassy in PH hits ‘false’ claims vs Beijing’s new coast guard law
MANILA, Philippines — China’s Embassy in the Philippines on Monday slammed “false accusations” against a new China coast guard law, insisting it conforms to international conventions and is not specifically targeted at any certain country.
In a statement, the embassy said the crafting of the law, which would allow China’s coast guard to fire at foreign vessels in Chinese claimed reefs, is a “normal domestic legislative activity” of Beijing.
“The content of the law conforms to international conventions and the practices of the international community. Enacting such a coast guard law is not unique to China, but a sovereign right to all,” it said.
“Many countries have enacted similar legislation. It is the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Law of 2009 that established the PCG as an armed and uniformed service. None of these laws have been seen as a threat of war,” it added.
Last week, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) filed a diplomatic protest over China’s new coast guard law, which the foreign affairs chief saw as “a verbal threat of war to any country that defies” it.
The Chinese embassy, however, said the new coast guard law, which has earned the concern of several Philippine lawmakers, “doesn’t specifically target any certain country.”
The enactment of the law also does not “indicate any change of China’s maritime policy,” it added.
The embassy said it has always been “committed” to “managing differences with countries including the Philippines through dialogue and consultations and upholding peace and stability in the South China Sea.”
Beijing’s new coast guard law also lets Chinese Coast Guard personnel “demolish” other countries’ structures built on China-claimed reefs and to board and inspect vessels in waters claimed by China.
In a privilege speech last week, Senator Francis Tolentino noted that the legislation further empowers the Chinese Coast Guard to “set up temporary exclusion zones.”
“These are lockdown zones as needed to stop other vessels and personnel from entering,” Tolentino had said.
“I worry for our fishermen from Zambales, Cavite, Batangas, Mindoro, and the rest of the eastern seaborne, who will venture out into that coast,” he added.
The Chinese embassy also decried what it called a “fabricated and spread relentlessly fake news” against the Chinese Coast Guard.
“Some forces in the Philippines, either for their own political interests or out of prejudice toward China, have not only misinterpreted China’s normal legislation, but also fabricated and spread relentlessly fake news such as ‘China Coast Guard harassing Filipino fishermen,’ despite repeated denial from authorities concerned including the Philippine armed forces of such an improbable case,” it said.
“They have also gone as far as to sensationalize the entry of a Chinese scientific survey ship into Philippine waters as an ‘intrusion’,” it added.
While “[e]veryone is entitled [to] freedom of speech,” the embassy said, “malicious hype-up and irresponsible and baseless accusations that run counter to common sense, are not acceptable and should not be appeased in a society that believes in rule of law and international norms as well as mutual respect.”
It was earlier reported that a Chinese survey vessel spotted operating without consent in northern Philippine waters last year was again sighted in the country’s territorial waters.
“The fact is that the Chinese scientific survey ship is seeking humanitarian shelter in Philippine waters due to unfavorable weather and sea conditions in the Pacific where they are scheduled to conduct research mission,” the embassy explained.
“The ship has sought clearance and humanitarian assistance from the Philippine government and maintained communication with its relevant authorities all the time,” it also said.
Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson Commodore Armand Balilo said the DFA informed them on Januay 30 that the Chinese embassy had requested diplomatic clearance for the ship to take shelter in Catanduanes due to bad weather.
At the time the Chinese ship entered Philippine waters, however, there was no storm or strong waves in the area.
The PCG then deployed a boat to inspect the Chinese ship but was refused access to the vessel because of Covid-19 restrictions.
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