The legislation allows for the demolition of structures from other countries built on reefs claimed by China, embarks and inspects foreign vessels in waters claimed by Beijing.
China has passed a law that, for the first time, explicitly allows its coast guard to fire at foreign ships, a move that could make the South China Sea and neighboring waters more turbulent.
China has maritime sovereignty disputes with Japan in the East China Sea and with several Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea.
He sent his coast guard to chase fishing vessels from other countries, sometimes resulting in the sinking of those vessels.
China’s highest legislative body, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, passed the coast guard law on Friday, state media reported.
According to the wording of the bill published previously, the Coast Guard is authorized to use “all necessary means” to stop or prevent threats from foreign vessels.
The bill specifies the circumstances in which different types of weapons – handheld, on board or airborne – can be used.
The bill allowed coast guard personnel to demolish structures in other countries built on reefs claimed by China and to board and inspect foreign vessels in waters claimed by China.
The bill also authorized the coast guard to create temporary exclusion zones “as needed” to prevent other vessels and personnel from entering.
Responding to concerns, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Friday that the law was in line with international practice.
The first article of the bill explained that the law was necessary to safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and maritime rights.
The law came seven years after China merged several civilian maritime law enforcement agencies to form a coast guard office.
After the office came under the command of the People’s Armed Police in 2018, it became a full-fledged branch of the military.
China’s latest move could also further complicate its relations with the United States, which has strategic alliances with several Asia-Pacific countries, including Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia, which has claims. maritime competitions with Beijing.
In a social media post, Christian Le Miere, maritime diplomacy analyst and founder of the London-based and The Hague-based group Arcipel, said the new law “strikes at the heart” of America’s freedom of navigation policy in southern China. Sea.
“The Chinese Coast Guard already does most of the maritime coercion in nearby seas, so it’s worth considering the new legislation just passed on this issue.
The International Court in The Hague overturned China’s nine-dash claim, which asserts control of most of the South China Sea.