Beijing/Washington/Canberra: – The United States and Australia have criticised the new regulations imposed by China to tighten its grip on the South China Sea. The US Department of Defence has accused China of violating international laws. The Australian Defence Ministry said the Australian navy would defy the new Chinese rules. As per the new regulations, all foreign vessels passing through the South China Sea are mandated to report their ‘cargo’ and ‘call signs’ to the Chinese authorities. Over the years, China, with an endeavour to control the South China Sea, has taken multiple steps to change maps, build artificial islands and set up independent mechanisms to assert maritime rights.
In the past decade, a lawsuit led by then-Philippines Foreign Minister Albert Del Rosario was filed in an international arbitration against China’s claims in the South China Sea. The verdict of the lawsuit was ruled in favour of the Philippines. The Philippine maritime special economic zone was recognised under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This dented a major blow to China’s claims on the entire South China Sea. Since then, China has taken many steps to assert its claim on the South China Sea. The new regulations are an extension of the same strategy.
New regulations announced by China’s Maritime Safety Administration is effective for 1st September. All foreign vessels passing through the South China Sea must report their cargo and Call signs to the Chinese authorities. The foreign vessels, including cargo, warships, submarines, will travel through the South China Sea only after getting clearance from the Chinese authorities. Chinese Defence forces have warned of action if the rules are violated.
US and Australia have criticised China’s imposition of unilateral regulations. ‘The law or regulation of any country with a maritime boundary cannot deprive the rest of the world of the right to free travel under international law. Illegal claims on other maritime areas, including the South China Sea, threaten the freedom of maritime transport. Such actions violate the interests of the countries in the South China Sea region and other neighbouring countries, as well as the right to free trade and transportation.’ the Pentagon said in a statement.
‘We have an idea of China‘s new rules. Such rules must be in line with international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Australian navy will overturn the rules. ‘Australian warships will exercise their right to freedom of navigation as per international law.’ the Australian Defence Department said in a statement.
Meanwhile, China’s Ambassador to the US, Qin Gang, has targeted the Cold War mentality of the United States. ‘The previous US administration had taken an extreme stance against China. Besides, the new administration has maintained it,’ Gang alleged. At a study group event in the United States, the Chinese Ambassador claimed that China was not Soviet Russia. The Soviet Union collapsed because of its internal weaknesses; the Chinese Ambassador warned the United States that it is far more powerful than the Soviet Union.