The Philippines has protested a new Chinese law that authorises its Coast Guard to fire on foreign vessels and destroy other countries' structures on islands it claims, Manila's top diplomat said on Wednesday.
Foreign Secretary Teldoro Locsin Jr said in a tweet that the new Chinese law "is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies it". Failure to challenge the law "is submission to it, "he said.
"While enacting law is a sovereign prerogative, this one- given the area involved, or for that matter the open South China Sea- is a verbal threat of War to any country that defies the law," Locsin said.
China's Coast Guard Law, which was passed on Friday, empowers the force to "take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by the foreign organisations or individuals at sea."
The law also authorises the coast guard to demolish other countries' structures built on reefs and islands claimed by China and to seize or order foreign vessels illegally entering China's territorial waters to leave. The Chinese law raises the stakes and the possibility of clashes with regional maritime rivals.