A fisherfolk group has called on the United Nations (UN) to declare China’s Coast Guard Law as “null and void”, as it expressed fear that the new law could be used against Filipino vessels fishing in the West Philippine Sea.
In a statement on Monday, Feb. 22, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said the Chinese government’s recent legislation is “undisputedly an act of aggression” against countries challenging China’s claim over the disputed waters in the South China Sea.
“We humbly appeal to the UN to decisively intervene on this matter by declaring the Coast Guard Law null and void as it does not only violate the international law of the sea, but it also poses threat to livelihood and security of claimant nations’ respective fisherfolk,” said Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya national chairperson.
Enacted on Jan. 22, the controversial law enables Chinese Coast Guard to fire at foreign vessels entering maritime territories in the South China Sea claimed by China.
The fishers’ group said the law is an “outright disregard” of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), as well as the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration that favored the Philippines’ claim over the West Philippine Sea, and invalidated China’s 9-dash line claim.
The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines on February 2 slammed the “false accusation” against their new law, 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. 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 embassy said in an earlier statement.
Pamalakaya has also called on the international community to “collectively denounce” China’s militarization and aggression in the South China Sea.
“This militarization should not only concern the claimant countries, but the international community as well,” Hicap said