MANILA, Philippines — Days after the Philippines lodged a diplomatic protest against China's new coast guard law, Beijing insisted that its enactment does not "specifically target any certain country."
The Chinese Embassy in Manila pointed out that the new rule allowing China's coast guard to fire on foreign vessels conforms to international conventions and practices of the international community.
"The enact of the law doesn’t indicate any change of China’s maritime policy. China 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," the Chinese Embassy said in a statement released Monday.
Stressing that the coast guard law is not unique to Beijing, the embassy pointed to other countries that have enacted similar legislations.
The Chinese Embassy cited Philippine Coast Guard Law of 2009 that established the PCG as an armed and uniformed service attached to the Department of Transportation.
"None of these laws have been seen as a threat of war," the statement read.
Beijing also accused "some forces" in the country of misinterpreting the China Coast Guard Law, which was formulated as a "normal domestic legislative activity."
Upon filing the diplomatic protest against China, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. had the said this move was a verbal threat of war.
"While enacting law is a sovereign prerogative, this one—given the area involved or for that matter the open South China Sea—is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies the law; which, if unchallenged, is submission to it.," Locsin tweeted on January 27.
Several lawmakers have expressed concern over Beijing's new law, including opposition Sen. Francis Pangilinan who said it encroaches the country's territorial seas and exclusive economic zone.
Survey ship seeking humanitarian shelter
The Chinese Embassy also addressed the issue of a survey ship spotted in waters of Catanduanes.
According to a report from Radyo Pilipinas Catanduanes, Chinese research vessel Jia Geng has been anchored in the vicinity of Bato, Catanduanes since January 28.
The Chinese survey ship is believed to be conducting marine survey in the area.
The Chinese Embassy, however, clarified that the ship was seeking humanitarian shelter in Philippine waters. They were supposed to conduct a research mission in the Pacific but had to stop due to unfavorable weather and sea conditions.
"The ship has sought clearance and humanitarian assistance from the Philippine government and maintained communication with its relevant authorities all the time," the embassy said.
In August 2019, the Philippines banned all foreign marine survey ships in the country following reports of the presence of Chinese survey ships in Philippine waters.
Shortly after this pronouncement, a Chinese research vessel was spotted operating in Philippine waters, defying the supposed ban.
Credit belongs to : www.philstar.com