The Daily Manila Shimbun


Use of force ”generally prohibited” amid China allowing coast guard to fire on foreign vessels – Palace

January 26, 2021

Malacanang said on Monday that the use of force is "generally prohibited" amid China's passage of a law explicitly granting its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace hopes that no country would do things that would exacerbate the situation in the South China Sea.

"While a country being a sovereign has the power to pass a law to be implemented in its territory, that law should still follow the obligations according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in which China is a member," he said.

"And under international law, general international law, the use of force is generally prohibited except for two well-defined exceptions, by way of self-defense and there is a need of sending of armed troops into the territory of China, and the use of force is necessary and proportional, and when authorized by the UN Security Council," explained Roque, who was an international law lawyer before joining politics.

State media reports said that China's National People's Congress standing committee approved last Friday the Coast Guard Law.

Prior to the passage of the law, the draft bill reportedly allows the use of all necessary meanst to stop or prevent threats from foreign vessels.

News reports also said that coast guard personnel were also allowed to demolish other countries' structures built on Chinese-claimed reefs and to board and inspect foreign vessels in waters claimed by China.

China has been claiming almost the entire South China Sea, including those areas within the exclusive economic zones of other countries, like the Philippines. It has also a territorial dispute with Japan in East China Sea.

"We hope that any country won't do anything in the West Philippine Sea issue that will exacerbate the situation," Roque said. The Philippines is calling the South China Sea as West Philippine Sea.

The spokesman said President Rodrigo Duterte wants the Code of Conduct for all the claimant countries in the South China Sea to be completed and this should be followed. Celerina Monte/DMS