China dismisses Philippines’ protest over fishing ban, calls it an “unwarranted accusation”

A Filipino fisherman. Image: Bernard Spragg
A Filipino fisherman. Image: Bernard Spragg

China has dismissed the Philippines’ protests against the former’s imposition of a fishing ban that covers areas of the West Philippine Sea, calling the country’s opposition an “unwarranted accusation.”

The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) filed a diplomatic protest over China’s unilateral declaration of a fishing ban between May 1 to August 16, and argued that the ban encroaches on the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Yet Beijing’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday that the Chinese fishing ban was a standard measure to safeguard China’s resources “under China’s jurisdiction” and cannot accept the Philippines’ “unwarranted accusation.”

The spokesperson added that the ban was a manifestation of “fulfilling obligations under international law including UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) by the Chinese side.”

Yet the Philippines won a 2016 ruling at the Hague tribunal that concluded that China had violated the UNCLOS by breaching the Philippines’ rights and freedoms within its EEZ. China has since ignored the decision.

China’s fishing ban extends up to the Panatag Shoal, about 220 kilometers west of the Philippine island of Luzon.

The latest update on the thorny maritime dispute comes after Chinese president Xi Jinping congratulated President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on his win, calling him a “builder, supporter, and promoter of the China-Philippines friendship.”

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