A new maritime law enacted by the Chinese government this week could pose a “serious threat” to freedom of navigation and free trade, the Pentagon said.
An amendment to China’s Maritime Traffic Safety Law – put into effect on September 1 – requires foreign vessels to provide information such as their name, call sign, current position, destination and cargo before cross the “territorial sea” of the country.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) defines its territorial waters not only as those off its mainland coast, but also as the 12-nautical-mile stretch of sea surrounding the islands and reefs it claims in the East China Seas. and southern, as well as Taiwan. Observers inside and outside China say the law is Beijing’s attempt to further assert its claims to disputed maritime territories.
An enactment notice issued by the China Maritime Safety Administration on Wednesday described the amendment as helping to regulate the conduct of maritime traffic. In its first announcement on Aug. 27, the agency said it would “treat” non-compliant vessels – presumably of a military nature as well – in accordance with the country’s rules and regulations.
Achieved by Newsweek On Wednesday, Department of Defense spokesman John Supple said: “The United States remains firm that any law or regulation of a coastal state must not infringe the rights of navigation and overflight whose benefit all nations under international law.
“Illegal and extensive maritime claims, including in the South China Sea, pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas, including the freedoms of navigation and overflight, free trade and unimpeded lawful commerce, as well as the rights and interests of the South China Sea and other littoral nations,” he added.
The principle of the freedom of the seas is codified in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) – ratified by China and recognized by the United States – and grants all nations the right of innocent passage through the territorial waters of a coastal State. The United States contends that the unilateral imposition of any prior notification requirement is contrary to international law.
In a separate response regarding the potential impact of Chinese maritime law on US Navy operations in the region, Pentagon Lt. Col. Martin Meiners said, “The United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law permits”.
At a regular press briefing on September 1, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States stands for the principle of “one universal set of rules for all countries, large and small.” small, to be included in the maritime domain”.
The United States has “not hesitated to file our protests” with China and would continue to oppose its “unlawful and excessive maritime claims”.
China says its ship reporting obligation applies to submersibles, nuclear ships, ships carrying radioactive materials and harmful substances, and “other ships that may endanger the safety of maritime traffic.” The last category seems intentionally ambiguous.
The Maritime Safety Administration has not specified how it plans to handle ships that do not report the required data before transiting the waters it considers its territorial sea.
In its notice on Wednesday, the maritime authority said the new amendment “optimizes conditions for maritime traffic, regulates the conduct of maritime traffic, strictly controls administrative licensing issues, improves maritime search and rescue and reinforces accountability.
Along with the new security law, China’s transport ministry made changes to five provisions, including its maritime and maritime administrative penalties, he said.