iconimg Thursday, April 02, 2015

Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times
Beijing, November 30, 2012
The Chinese government has allowed police in the southern Chinese island of Hainan on the South China Sea to board and search any ship they deem has illegally entered Chinese waters. The new regulation is likely to further deepen the dispute over islands in the South China Sea that Beijing is currently embroiled in with number of its neighbours. The regulations will take effect from January 1 and activities that have been designated as illegal include entering the island province’s waters without permission, damaging coastal defense facilities, and engaging in publicity that threatens national security.

Since China as per its new biometric passports claims nearly the entire South China Sea, the new regulations will do nothing to assuage Beijing’s angry neighbours including Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. The new map of the country includes almost all of the strategically significant sea, the site of key shipping routes and potentially significant fuel reserves. (India has its own problems with the map but has retaliated with its own version of it.)

Officials in Beijing and state media justify the South China Sea claim by pointing to “ample historical facts and evidence” about the area, while remaining ambiguous on what these are.