05:15 GMT +324 March 2017
    Chinese Navy officers wait dockside as a Chinese Navy warship escorting the arrival of the USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG54) (File)

    China May Bar Foreign Ships From Passing Through Its Territorial Waters

    Asia & Pacific
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    Officials in Beijing have announced plans to revise a 34-year-old maritime safety law that would permit relevant authorities to “bar some foreign ships from passing through Chinese territorial waters,” according to Chinese state media outlets.

    China and the US have maintained a consistent tension over US ships transiting the South China Sea under the banner of "freedom of navigation" patrols, and the revised law could provide China with the legal firepower to restrict access to waters it claims as its own. It is not clear what means China would use to enforce a revised version of the 1984 Maritime Traffic Safety Law.

    "The draft would empower maritime authorities to prevent foreign ships from entering Chinese waters if it is decided that the ships may harm traffic safety and order," a recent article in the Global Times stated. On Tuesday, the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council revealed that it would accept public commentary before final revisions are made.

    The changes will accord with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, in addition to Chinese laws on the seas, adjacent areas, and exclusive economic zones, the office said.

    Yang Cuibai, a Chinese legal scholar, told the Global Times that, "The revisions will strengthen China’s management over territorial waters in a new era when the country’s communication and trade with foreign countries in the waters have sharply increased." Yang also suggested that China should take the lead on establishing legal order in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and South China Sea.

    Submarines operated by non-Chinese nations would be required to transit the maritime area on the surface of the water, as well as display national flags, and report movements within Beijing-claimed territory to the country’s maritime management administration, the draft states.

    "Should China implement a mandatory check of each and every naval vessel, it may have a chilling effect on global seaborne trade," financial news outlet ZeroHedge notes.

    Non-Chinese military ships would be required to apply for a pilot’s license, according to the draft. Ships that traverse China’s waters without Chinese consent would be fined 300,000-500,000 yuan ($43,706-72,844).

    The draft adds that people at sea encountering difficulty "have the right to be rescued without charge."

    If and when the draft becomes a law in 2020, China’s assertion of sovereignty over territorial waters could be met with resistance by America. US policy since 1983 states that, "The United States will not, however, acquiesce in unilateral acts of other states designed to restrict the rights and freedoms of the international community and overflight and other related high seas uses,” the US State Department notes. "The [Freedom of Navigation] program operates on a triple track, involving not only diplomatic representations and operational assertions by US military units, but also bilateral and multilateral consultations with other governments" in order to "promote maritime stability."


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    • avatar
      it was only a matter of time...the u s has been pushing hard to get either Russia or China to snap back at their constant antagonisim. the u s is just making it harder for the rest of us
    • avatar
      sounds reasonable to me. :)
    • siberianhusky
      Go China Go,
      it's not different as what any other country would do when somebody use their territorial waters as their own back yard.
      Give them an inch and they take a mile.
    • avatar
    • avatar
      Territorial water are usually 12 miles average not a large sea that has always been international waters.But hey we will claim the Indian ocean along with England as all territory was given back but the ocean wasn't also the Pacific Ocean is US territoial water. As we can't allow oil through either waters or trade . If everyone is grabbing seas and oceans we will too. A brass monkey gave us those waters over 200yrs ago. Also the Russian spy ship armed with missiles off our coast should we sink it as it has been about 12 miles out???? What are doing thousands of miles from home they are bullies. Oh yeah that's right no one really cares as they are in public waters and have a right to be there . No fly overs or stopping it or harrasment as we go near their waters they have a right near ours. Also China found it necessary to visit Alaska with warships months ago.Did we harrass them ,no we saw it as their right to be in international waters .But maybe we will just blow the ships up next time as that sounds like what China believes is right. But hey with new ICBMs being made while still friendly it goes to show they intended to use them on us and that's fine China you really want war by stealing a large sea and threaten us you won't have to do much more. Just remember when picking a fight with those who don't want one we will probably just turn you to ash as we helped many times before yet you always backstab us. So no worries here as Russia will stay out of this it's not worth it to them.As peace is and no hate is the better road to take but if China picks the road to war that is their choice .
    • james
      the fines would rack up fast, but no one will pay them. china should instead start turning back barges. if a flotilla of six american naval ships pass through their waters, turn back 60 american barges without payment, supplies, or fuel. then the american economy will be affected and their navy will have to go rescue them and tug them all the way home.
    • American Socialist
      this is China's Monroe Document.
      it was OK for America to do it, but not for China?
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