DFA concerned over China’s new policy on detaining ‘trespassers’

China Coast Guard empowered to detain 'trespassing' foreigners on West Philippine Sea.

This photo taken on February 16, 2024, shows a rigid hull inflatable boat leaving a Chinese coast guard vessel near the China-controlled Scarborough Shoal, in disputed waters of the South China Sea. The Philippines on February 17 accused Chinese coast guard vessels of “dangerous” maneuvers for attempting to block a Filipino vessel dropping supplies to fishermen at a reef off the Southeast Asian nation’s coast. FILE PHOTO/Agence France-Presse

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) expressed “serious concern” on Sunday over China’s new policy authorizing its coast guard extensive powers to detain “trespassers” against what it calls “its borders” for up to 60 days without trial.

Last May 15, China announced its issuance of Regulations on Administrative Law Enforcement Procedures for Coast Guard Agencies, which reportedly will take effect on June 15.

READ: China’s new policy on ‘trespassers’ a ‘desperate move’ – Atin Ito

In addressing this, DFA pointed out that every sovereign state has the right to formulate and enact laws, as well as enforce domestic legislation within its jurisdiction, but these laws “may not be applied in the territory, maritime zones or jurisdiction of other states, nor violate other sovereign states’ rights and entitlements under international law.”

“The regulations are issued on the basis of the 2021 Coast Guard law, which also illegally expanded the maritime law enforcement powers of China’s Coast Guard,” the agency’s statement read.

READ: Marcos: China’s new rule vs trespassers ‘unacceptable’

“China would be in direct violation of international law should it enforce these new regulations in the waters and maritime features within the illegal, null and void, and expansive 10-dash line, which would effectively cover areas of the West Philippine Sea where the Philippines has sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction, or in the high seas,” it further said.

DFA likewise asserted that China’s legislation must reflect and abide by its commitments and obligations under international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the binding 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea, and the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

In line with this, the agency reiterated its call for China to comply with these laws and “desist from any action that would undermine peace and security in the region.”

Based on previous reports, China’s aggressive pronouncements came after the Atin Ito Coalition’s recently concluded civilian-led supply mission in the West Philippine Sea.

Atin Ito started its mission last May 14 and concluded on May 16 after accomplishing its main objectives about 50 nautical miles from the Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal.