China’s Coast Guard Law an ‘open declaration of war,’ says fishers’ group

Published February 4, 2021, 11:20 AM

by Jhon Aldrin Casinas

China’s newly-enacted Coast Guard Law is an “open declaration of war” against countries who challenge Beijing’s claim over the disputed waters in the South China Sea.

Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

Fishers’ group Pamalakaya made the statement on Thursday, in response to China’s defense of its Coast Guard Law that empowers its Coast Guard to fire at foreign vessels in Chinese-claimed marine territories in the South China Sea.

The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines on Feb. 2 slammed “false accusation” against their newly passed legislation, saying that the “content of the law conforms to international conventions and the practices of the international community.”

“China Coast Guard Law doesn’t specifically target any certain country. The enact of the law doesn’t indicate any change of China’s maritime policy,” the embassy said in a statement.

But some fisherfolk groups raised concerns over China’s new law, alleging that it could “endanger” the lives of Filipino fishers fishing in disputed waters.

“China is making a fool out of the Filipinos and the international community, by denying that its recently-passed Coast Guard Law does not indicate a threat to other countries. It is undeniably an open declaration of war against countries who challenge China’s illegal claim in nearly the entire South China Sea,” said Pamalakaya National Chairperson Fernando Hicap in a statement.

“Only obsequious puppet administrations would believe and agree with China, as the latter has been already exposed in the global community as an aggressor who will use any means necessary, including military, to advance its geopolitical interest and agenda,” he added.

Last Jan. 29, the fishers’ group trooped to the Chinese Consular office in Makati City to show their defiance against Beijing’s coast guard law.

“China can’t just order its naval forces to shoot anyone that they consider as foreigners to the maritime waters that they illegally claim. This legislation would heighten the antagonistic approach of Chinese militias against Filipino fishers conducting economic activities within our own fishing grounds,” said Pamalakaya Secretary General Salvador France.

In a Twitter post, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Jan. 27 said that he filed a diplomatic protest against China’s coast guard law.