MANILA — Beijing assures the Philippines that it is not targeting the country when it adopted a controversial law allowing its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels.
Ambassador Jose Santiago Sta. Romana, the Philippine envoy to China, said Manila has objected to the law’s language on the use of force and its possible application in areas beyond China’s territory.
“The Chinese have reassured us…they are not targeting the Philippines or any specific country and that they will not resort to force in the first instance,” Sta. Romana said at a press briefing.
“Through the objection, through the diplomatic note, and through the diplomatic discussion, the Chinese have tried to reassure that they will still exercise restraint. This is what we are calling for, that all claimant countries resort to diplomacy and avoid the use of force,” he explained.
Under the said law, the Chinese coast guard can “take all necessary measures” to prevent maritime incursions. It also allows the boarding and inspection of foreign ships in waters claimed by China and the destruction of foreign structures on Beijing-claimed islands and reefs.
As one of the five claimants disputing China’s extensive claim in the South China Sea, the Philippines has signified its protest on the new law.
In 2016, a Hague-based arbitral tribunal voided China’s wide-reaching maritime claims in the South China Sea but the Chinese government refused to recognize the ruling. (BG/Headline PH)