Hainan fishing zone rule 'nothing new'

Updated: 2014-01-11 02:37

By Li Xiaokun and Mo Jingxi (China Daily)

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The new fishing rule issued by Hainan province is no different than the China Fisheries Law created in 1986, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday, adding that Washington is sensationalizing it to jeopardize Beijing's relations with its neighbors.

Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the remarks when asked about the US response to the new fishing regulation in China's sourthernmost province. The rule requires foreign fishing boats entering waters administered by Hainan to seek China's permission.

She said Washington will find that the new rule "bears no differences at all" compared with the Fisheries Law.

"What's the problem (with the regulation)? The problem does not lie with China's laws and regulations but is related to the interpreters' minds."

The regulation, approved by the provincial legislature of Hainan on Nov 29, took effect on Jan 1.

The news came into focus after foreign media on Wednesday described the regulation as being akin to Beijing's late November announcement of its Air Defense Identification Zone, which requires foreign planes to notify the Chinese government when flying through the zone. The area covers China's Diaoyu Islands.

Hua on Thursday said it is normal practice for an ocean state to protect its fisheries resources.

However, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on the same day that it is "a provocative and potentially dangerous act".

She gave no indication of any possible US response to the fishing zone.

Washington had responded to Beijing's ADIZ declaration by sending two B-52 bombers into the area without informing China.

Hua said on Friday that China's administration of its resources in more than three decades has not triggered tensions. However, the new revision of a regulation has invited a dispute. "Isn't the accusation driven by ulterior motives?" she asked.

She added that China's claims in the South China Sea are firm and "do not need to resort to a local regulation to consolidate them".

"We firmly oppose relevant countries from continuously instigating trouble and sowing seeds of discord," she said.

Tao Wenzhao, a senior research fellow on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Washington is overreacting as it has no fishing activities in the waters.

"It has regarded the regulation as another challenge to its leading role in East Asia posed by China's fast development," he said.

Jin Canrong, deputy dean of the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China, said Washington is making legal preparations for its future interventions in the region by hyping up the idea of free navigation.

"However, the freedom of navigation was never affected in past decades," Jin said.

"Washington wants to stir up dissatisfaction among countries involved in the South China Sea issue," he added.

Local media in Vietnam made little response to Hainan's new rule.

Vietnam's Foreign Ministry spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi has said that "all foreign activities at these areas without Vietnam's acceptance are illegal and groundless", according to Reuters.

Manila has asked its embassy in Beijing to learn more about the information. The two countries also hold territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Jin said China will by no means stop its efforts to become a strong marine nation despite the disputes, but it will stick to peaceful development and try to keep smooth relations with neighbors in the process.

Contact the writers at lixiaokun@chinadaily.com.cn and mojingxi@chinadaily.com.cn

Wang Jian contributed to this story.