Filipino fishers urged Beijing to recall new fishing rules in South China Sea
Gang Gong Li and Gerry Albert Corpuz
Manila, Philippines– An association of small fishermen in the Phillippines urged the Chinese government over the weekend to reconsider the new fishing rules it approved governing conflicts arising from the highly disputed South China Sea.
All voices learned over the weekend that the Philippine based fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ngKilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) appealed to the Chinese government to recall a new fishing rule that demands foreign fishing vessels to enter in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
In a hurruiedly called press briefing in Manila, Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France reminded Beijing that the 2 million square kilometer, which they claim is part of their territory, is part of the 3.5 million square kilometer South China Sea where aside from China, is being claimed in parts by the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia , Brunei and Vietnam.
“We ask the Chinese government to be extra prudent in dealing with the West Philippine Sea conflict. It would be better if Beijing seeks bilateral and inter-nation dialogues with other claimants rather than engage in hardcore assertion of something that needs to be carefully studied.
It would be appropriate if the Chinese government seeks peaceful and diplomatic resolutions to the conflict rather than engage in another tension-ridden tit-for-tat with other claimants,” the Pamalakaya official said.
France said Beijing and the rest of the claimants should discuss and resolve the West Philippine Sea row among them and on the other hand, must unite to frustrate the intervention of other powerful countries like the United States, whom the Pamalakaya leader said, is the biggest threat to world peace according to international opinion.
Pamalakaya at this juncture is proposing a South China Sea fishing dialogue to be participated by representatives of governments currently involved in the West Philippine Sea conflict.
They would be joined by fisherfolk associations and non-government organizations. It said the principles of equality, mutual respect, mutual benefit, non-aggression, peaceful co-existence and foreign relations based on people-to-people relations and international solidarity.
“This is a tough task to do since the Manila government is a satellite office of Washington D.C and other claimant governments misrepresent their people and perform their duties as lower junior partners of the US government who is obsessed in controlling West Philippine Sea for oil resources, navigation and military control over the East Asia and Pacific region,” the group noted.
The Philippine government is seeking clarification of rules from China’s Hainan province which requires foreign fishing vessels to seek permit before entering the disputed South China Sea. Foreign affairs secretary Raul Hernandez said the Philippine government had asked the Beijing embassy in Manila to get more information about the Chinese fishing rule.
The Hainan rules do not outline penalties, but the requirements are similar to the 2004 national law, which says boats entering Chinese territory without permission can have their catch and fishing equipment seized and face fines of up to 500,000 yuan or 82,600 US dollars.
Meanwhile, Pamalakaya lambasted the US government for intervening on a dispute that should be collectively resolved by China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines. The United States had dismissed the new Chinese fishing restrictions in disputed waters in the South China Sea “a provocative and potentially dangerous act.
“The US is exploiting the issue to advance its horrible, horrifying and agenda filled with cruel intentions in West Philippine Sea,” said Pamalakaya. Jen Psaki [Unlink], spokesperson of the US State Department maintained that the passing of these restrictions on other countries’ fishing activities in disputed portions of the South China Sea is a provocative and potentially dangerous act and criticized China for not offering any explanation or basis under international law for these extensive maritime claims. ###