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We’ll Make Our Own Laws: China Threatens To Jail Fisherman In South China Sea

REUTERS/Reuters TV

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter

China has decided its highest court will set legal norms for China’s expanding territorial waters, stating foreign intruders could face prosecution and up to a year in prison.

China’s Supreme People’s Court released a set of provisions Tuesday on several issues concerning the trial cases pertaining to the maritime areas under the jurisdiction of the People’s Republic of China. This follows the Chinese Ministry of Defense’s statement that the ruling of the arbitration tribunal “is not effective and has no binding force” on China’s territorial claims.

Downplaying the authority of the arbitration tribunal, China said, “The people’s courts will actively exercise jurisdiction over China’s territorial waters” and “safeguard China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime interests.” The state continued, “Judicial power is an important component of national sovereignty.”

As China claims the vast majority of the South China Sea as sovereign Chinese territory, these new judicial provisions do not bode well for other claimant states– namely Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia.

China’s Supreme People’s Court introduced new regulations for foreign fishing vessels, indicating it will take a tougher stance on trawlers that venture into the disputed waters.

In the past, China simply confiscated gear and vessels and sent the crews back to their home countries, but that will no longer be the case.

According to the new regulations, those who “illegally enter China’s territorial waters” and refuse to leave or choose to return after being sent away could serve time. These latest provisions from the Chinese judiciary system state clearly that unlawful intrusions will be regarded as “serious” criminal acts.

While others have expressed concern over the new provisions, China remains firmly convinced the new regulations will “promote judicial assistance and international cooperation on maritime affairs.”

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