China's Coast Guard law is 'valid' only within its borders — Locsin

Published May 23, 2021, 2:49 PM

by Roy Mabasa

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Sunday maintained that the China Coast Guard law “does not exist” in as far as the Philippines’ territorial waters are concerned and is only effective within the Chinese borders.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. (AP Photo / Sakchai Lalit / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

This was Locsin’s reaction to the latest statement made by retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio who said that the CCG law is a threat to the security not just of the Philippines but also to other claimant countries in the South China Sea.

“I refuse to have it studied as if it applied to our territorial waters. It doesn’t. So we in boats go about our waters like the CCG law does not exist; we run up against its enforcement we fight back… or submit. CHN (China) like PH can write any law but valid only within their borders,” Locsin said in a tweet.

In a speech over the weekend, the former Supreme Court magistrate also believes that the legality of the Chinese Coast Guard law can be challenged before the international tribunal.

Under the controversial law that was approved by China’s Communist Party plenary on January 22, 2021, it explicitly allows its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels, a move that could further stir the already volatile waters of the South China Sea.

The said law empowers the Chinese Coast Guard to “take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea”.

Since the July 2016 Arbitral Award only applies to the Philippines, Carpio said there is still a way for other claimant countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam to question’s China’s excessive claims.

“There is a way to question the validity of that law under UNCLOS because even now, even before China implemented it. If not, Malaysia, Indonesia can file a case questioning the nine-dash line, questioning the claim of China that China has traditional fishing rights to fish in the EEZs of Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. Because the Arbitral Award does not apply to them, it applies technically only between the Philippines and China,” said Carpio who was among the architects of the filing of the Philippine arbitration case against China before the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

In January this year, shortly after China’s implementation of its Coast Guard Law, the Philippines filed a diplomatic protest with Locsin calling the Chinese law “a verbal threat of war” to any country.

“While enacting law is a sovereign prerogative, this one—given the area involved or for that matter the open South China Sea—is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies the law; which, if unchallenged, is submission to it,” he said.