Philippines complains about Chinese fishing ban and ‘harassment’ at sea

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines said on Tuesday it had lodged a diplomatic protest with China for unilaterally declaring a ban on fishing in the South China Sea, and also complained of harassment and violations of its jurisdiction by Beijing Coast Guard.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry accused the Chinese vessels of disrupting a joint marine scientific research mission as well as energy exploration activities at two sites in the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

In a separate statement, he denounced China’s imposition of a fishing moratorium aimed at regenerating fish stocks, an annual ban that includes waters inside the EEZs of Vietnam and the Philippines.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Philippines’ statements, which referred to developments in March and April.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the Coast Guard’s actions were “not consistent with innocent passage and are clear violations of Philippine maritime jurisdiction.”

He did not say why he waited over a month to comment on the incidents.

The protest shows the challenges ahead for President-elect Ferdinand Marcos, who will have to strike a delicate balance in pursuing stronger economic ties with China while not appearing to capitulate to what the military sees as unlawful provocations by Beijing at sea.

Marcos, whom analysts of the May 9 election victory see as more favorable to Beijing than to Washington, said last week he would defend sovereign territory and resist Chinese encroachment, in his strongest comments to today on foreign policy.

This follows a conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping in which he said he would elevate bilateral relations to a new level.

The Philippines and China have always had a rocky relationship over Beijing’s vast territorial claims and the conduct of its coast guard and fishing fleet in the South China Sea, through which at least 2.4 million people pass. dollars in maritime trade each year.

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Additional reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Martin Petty)