MANILA: The Philippines has issued a diplomatic protest over Beijing’s declaration of a fishing ban in the South China Sea, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
The South China Sea is a strategic and resource-rich waterway claimed by China almost in its entirety, but other countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, also have overlapping claims.
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs protested a fishing moratorium that China has issued between May and August each year since 1999 to regenerate fish stocks. The ban covers areas inside exclusive economic zones belonging to Vietnam and the Philippines.
“The DFA conveyed its protest to the moratorium, which covers areas in the West Philippine Sea over which the Philippines has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, referring to the part of the South China Sea under Philippine jurisdiction.
“The declaration of a moratorium on fishing that extends to the West Philippine Sea has no basis in law.”
A Chinese official was also summoned by Philippine authorities, the department said in a separate statement, after China Coast Guard vessels were sighted in the Philippines exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.
“The Department summoned a senior official of the Chinese Embassy in Manila to protest the harassment,” the statement read.
The Philippines government has filed hundreds of diplomatic protests against Chinese activity in the South China Sea in the past few years, after an international tribunal in The Hague dismissed China’s sweeping claim to the region.
Amid increasing tensions with Beijing, the Philippines established this month three coast guard outposts on three islands in the disputed maritime area to monitor ship movement.
Philippines President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who will take office on June 30, said last week that he would uphold the 2016 Hague ruling and use it to “continue to assert our territorial rights.”