To effectively counter China’s new law giving powers to its coastguard to fire on foreign vessels and demolish structures built in disputed waters, the Philippines’ military chief Cirilito Sobejana has said that it will increase its naval presence in the South China Sea to protect its fisherman.
“We will increase our visibility through the deployment of more naval assets, but I just want to make clear our navy presence there is not (to) wage war against China but to secure our own people,” said Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana.
“That pronouncement by China that their coastguard can open fire at people intruding into their territory is very alarming,” Sobejana added.
The Philippines has protested against the new law, which country’s officials said would heighten risks of a miscalculation.
China claims virtually entire South China Sea, something which is contested by several countries in the region. As per the report, some parts of the waters that fall within Manila’s exclusive economic zone was renamed West Philippine Sea by the Philippine government.
China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and its efforts to advance into the Indian Ocean are seen to have challenged the established rules-based system.
Last month, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, passed the coastguard law that empowers the coastguard to use “all necessary means” to deter threats posed by foreign vessels in waters “under China’s jurisdiction”.
It will also allow the coastguards to launch pre-emptive strikes without prior warning if commanders deem it necessary.
Under the new law, coastguard personnel can demolish structures built or installed by other countries in Chinese-claimed waters and board and inspect foreign ships in the area.