The Philippines on Tuesday signaled its opposition to a new Chinese law that will subject nearly the entire South China Sea to Beijing’s military enforcement—a move that is likely to further fuel tensions in the troubled waters.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said the Philippine government was still “studying the new law and its possible implications,” but maintained that Manila had “sovereignty and rights and jurisdiction over the West Philippine Sea.”
China’s new law, the South China Morning Post reported, “would step up protection of China's military facilities and its territorial waters following reports of inadvertent intrusions into restricted zones and concerns about spying.” It is said to take effect on August 1.
Jose said the Philippines will complete its assessment of the latest Chinese directive “as soon as possible” to determine its next course of action.
The Philippines has adopted the name West Philippine Sea for parts of the South China Sea that falls under its exclusive economic zone, a 200 nautical-mile stretch of sea from a coast where a country has an exclusive right to fish, explore oil and exploit other resources but where foreign ships could freely pass through.
Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims to the resource-rich waters, a vital sealane where oil and natural gas have been discovered in several areas.
China claims almost 90 percent of the South China Sea under its so-called nine-dash line map and the cluster of islands, reefs and atolls further south that’s called the Spratlys.
Manila filed a case against China before a The Hague-based tribunal to try to declare its massive claim illegal.