Taiwan said it rejected China’s fishing rules requiring foreign vessels to seek permission from China before entering waters near its southern shores and called for reduced tensions in the South China Sea.
Taiwanese fishermen are proceeding as normal without declaring themselves and haven’t been stopped by Chinese authorities, deputy minister of mainland affairs Wu Mei-hung said at a press briefing yesterday.
The amended fishing rules requiring foreign vessels to get approval from China before entering its waterways was passed by the country’s southernmost province of Hainan in November and became effective this month. Trespassers could face confiscation of fishing equipment and 500,000 yuan ($83,000) fines, China News Service reported Nov. 29.
Spats involving fishing and exploration boats in the South China Sea have raised tensions as competition for fish, gas and oil has intensified between China and other Asian countries. China claims the Paracel and Spratly islands, parts of which are also occupied or claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.
First introduced in 1993, the fishing rule protects the legitimate interests of fishery workers, China Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing yesterday. The country’s coastal provinces make regulations in accordance with international laws, Hua said.
The waterways have always been part of the territory of the Republic of China, Wu said yesterday, referring to Taiwan’s formal name. Taiwan has been self-governing since Nationalist forces fled to the island in 1949 during a civil war for control of China.
The Philippines government is reaching out to its embassies in Beijing and Hanoi to verify reports that foreign fishermen need China’s permission to navigate the waters, including disputed seas, foreign affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said in a mobile-phone message. A year ago, the Philippines asked a UN-backed tribunal to rule on its sea disputes with China.
Officials from foreign ministries of China and Vietnam started the first round of negotiations in Beijing on Jan. 8 on joint development on the sea, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The two sides hope to have substantial cooperation after the two nations reached an agreement in 2011 aiming to resolve sea disputes, Xinhua said.
China in November unnerved its neighbors by declaring an air defense identification zone over the East China Sea that overlaps with those of Japan and South Korea. Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou in December called China’s establishment of the zone “unhelpful”.
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