China to Arrest and Jail Filipino Fishermen Caught ‘Illegal’ Fishing in Disputed South China Sea

Filipino fishermen South China Sea

The Chinese government will arrest all Filipino fishermen who will be caught fishing in South China Sea, and will be put to jail. This is after China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC) reaffirmed their maritime jurisdiction and interest claim this Tuesday, August 2 over the disputed territories. China noted that this latest regulation will take effect immediately.

“Judicial power is an important component of national sovereignty. People’s courts will actively exercise jurisdiction over China’s territorial waters, support administrative departments to legally perform maritime management duties, equally protect the legal rights of Chinese and foreign parties involved and safeguard Chinese territorial sovereignty and maritime interests.” The SPC was quoted in a statement via Xinhuanet.

“When it came to illegal fishing by foreign fishermen before, we usually just drove them out, or, in some serious cases, confiscated the goods or fishing tools but finally would let them go rather than taking them to court. Now, China know clearly what to do when illegal fishermen enter the waters.” Chinese Academy of Social Science Professor Wang Hanling said.

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According to this new Chinese law, any foreign fishermen (not only Filipinos) who will enter Chinese territorial waters and refuse to leave after being driven away will be considered as committing a criminal offense, and will face the Chinese court. If proven guilty, offenders shall be fined with an undisclosed amount and will be sent to prison or for less than a year.

China noted that the same regulation applies to all foreign fishermen caught re-entering the South China Sea after being caught and sentenced in the past year, as well as to any foreign national entering the disputed territories even if those who will not engage in “illegal” fishing, such as harvesting corals and hunting endangered, rare wildlife.

And although it was not mentioned in this new Chinese regulation, many analysts believe that it is China’s response to the ruling of Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in favor of the Philippines. In early July. The five-member international tribunal noted there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over South China Sea.

During his first SONA (State of the Nation Address) last July 25, President Rodrigo Duterte hailed the Hague ruling, Last Wednesday, July 27, he met with four former presidents Benigno Aquino III, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Joseph “Erap” Estrada and Fidel V. Ramos in the historical event, National Security Council to seek advice in handling the issue.