Hanoi [Vietnam], May 1 (ANI): International public opinion has raised concern over the oppressive Coast Guard Law of China, saying that Beijing uses the law to legalise its coast guard force's use of violence to serve the country's unilateral sovereignty claim in the East Sea (also known as the South China Sea).
According to VNA, the Coast Guard Law of China was adopted at the 25th session of the Standing Committee of the country's 13th National People's Congress in late January and officially became effective on February 1.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. filed a diplomatic protest with China over the law authorising its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels. The new Chinese law is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies it, he wrote.
At a reception for Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto on March 30, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga voiced his concern over China's activities in the waters, including the enforcement of its Coast Guard Law. Both sides spoke highly of the importance of maintaining free and open navigation based on international law, the Vietnam news outlet reported.
Jay Batongbacal, Director of the University of the Philippines's Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, said this law basically authorizes the China Coast Guard to use force in its attempt to exercise jurisdiction over waters claimed unilaterally by China, and allows it to demolish foreign structures built on Chinese-claimed reefs and islands, as well as to set up exclusion zones to keep foreign vessels out.
This shows the East Asian giant is just continuing with its plans "to take over the South China Sea," regardless of its ongoing negotiations with other states, including its discussion with ASEAN for a Code of Conduct, he stressed.
Spokesperson of the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry Le Thi Thu Hang said countries are obliged to comply with international laws and international treaties to which they are a signatory, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), when they issue and implement national legal documents relating to the sea.
Vietnam has sufficient historical and legal evidence to prove its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos in line with international law, national sovereignty, sovereignty rights, and jurisdiction over the waters in accordance with the 1982 UNCLOS, and it will resolutely and persistently take measures in line with international law to protect those legal and legitimate rights, Hang said.
"Vietnam requires relevant countries respect its sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the East Sea, and have the responsibility to enforce international law and the 1982 UNCLOS in good faith, without actions to increase tensions, and actively contribute to building trust, maintaining peace and stability, promoting international order at sea, and security, safety, and freedom of navigation in the East Sea."
China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
China has been increasing its maritime activities in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea over the past few months, partly in response to Beijing's concerns over the increasing US military presence in the region because of escalating Sino-US tensions.
Beijing's rising assertiveness against counter claimants in the East and South Sea has resulted in unprecedented agreement across the Indo-Pacific. (ANI)