China cannot just order its naval forces to fire at foreign vessels in Chinese-claimed maritime territories in the South China Sea, a militant fishers’ group said Friday.
Members of the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) trooped to the Chinese Consular Office in Makati on Friday to protest China’s new legislation allowing its coast guard to fire at foreign vessels entering maritime territories claimed by China.
In a statement, the group said that China’s Coast Guard Law, which was enacted on January 22, would “endanger” the lives of Filipino fishermen fishing in maritime territories in the South China Sea claimed by the Chinese government.
“China can’t just order its naval forces to shoot anyone that they consider as foreigners to the maritime waters that they illegally claim,” said Pamalakaya Secretary General Salvador France.
“This legislation would heighten the antagonistic approach of Chinese militias against Filipino fishers conducting economic activities within our own fishing grounds,” he added.
The fishers’ group has urged the Chinese government to comply with the 2016-decision of the permanent court of arbitration invalidating China’s claim in nearly the entire South China Sea.
“We stress that China doesn’t have any legal, political, and historical claim over the entire South China Sea,” France said during the protest.
“It must respect the fishing rights of the Filipino fisherfolk in the West Philippine Sea, and moreover, refrain from any armed approach and honor the freedom of navigation as stated by the international maritime law,” he added.
France has also expressed alarm over China’s “expansionism and militarization activities” in the South China Sea, saying that such activities “poses threat to our national security, not to mention the fear it casts to our fisherfolk and its impact to our aquatic and marine resources.”
“This militarization should not only concern the claimant countries, but the international community as well,” he said.
“It is high time for every country, claimants and non-claimants of South China Sea, to unite and put external pressure against China to thwart its geopolitical aggression and military expansionism in the Southeast Asia,” he added.
On January 27, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr announced on Twitter that he filed a diplomatic protest against China’s new law.