World / Opinion

Manila violates UN Convention

By Li Jieyu (China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-14 08:18

Manila violates UN Convention

The Philippines detained 11 Chinese fishermen for unverifiable crime after seizing their vessel near China's Half Moon Shoal in the South China Sea on May 6. On Monday, the Philippines defied China's demand to free the fishermen and charged nine of them with poaching more than 500 endangered sea turtles. Two fishermen, both minors, will be sent back home.

By doing so, the Philippines has violated the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which it has been trying to use to legalize its claim on China's islands in the South China Sea.

China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters in the South China Sea. In May 2009, Malaysia and Vietnam jointly submitted to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf a notification of the two countries' continental shelf claims in the South China Sea, and Vietnam also unilaterally made another submission. In response, China submitted its map of the nine-dash line attached to two note verbales to the UN to refute the two countries' extended continental shelf claims. In the notes, China stated that it has the sovereignty and sovereign rights over the territorial sea and exclusive economic zones of Nansha Islands.

Since Half Moon Shoal is part of the Nansha Islands, Manila has no right to detain any vessel or fisherman fishing in its waters. By doing so, it has violated international norms for the fishing industry, as well as the UNCLOS.

China has been exercising its administrative jurisdiction over the Nansha Islands and its surrounding waters by carrying out normal maritime operations. But of late, Chinese fishermen have not been feeling safe in the South China Sea because of the belligerent attitude of some countries locked in territorial disputes with China.

According to the UNCLOS, after being authorized to fish in some exclusive economic zones, countries should abide by the laws and regulations of the coastal states when it comes to the management and conservation of resources. The coast guard of a coastal state could board and check the relevant documents of vessels fishing in the waters near its coast if they violate these laws and regulations. It could even detain the fishermen. But under no circumstances, should the fishermen (or other people on board the vessels) be subjected to corporal punishment and imprisonment.

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