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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 February 24 - March 2  > China should rescind its Coast Guard Law
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2021 February 24 - March 2 TOP3 [POLITICS]

China should rescind its Coast Guard Law

February 24, 2021

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Since China implemented the Coast Guard Law on February 1, Chinese official vessels have increasingly intruded into Japanese territorial waters off the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa. This law expands the areas of operation by the China Coast Guard and strengthens the Coast Guard powers, including use of arms.

The law in question conflicts with the international maritime order established under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The UN treaty allows "freedom of navigation" of foreign vessels while taking into account the rights of coastal countries. The waters subject to a coastal county's sovereignty are limited to within 12 nautical miles, and the passage of foreign ships is allowed as long as they do not undermine a coastal country's peace and order. Regarding the contiguous water area, the exclusive economic zone, and the continental shelf, the treaty sets the limited authority of a coastal country in each sea area.

However, without referring to the international maritime order at all, China on its own included a provision concerning "commonwealth waters" in its Coast Guard Law, but the provision does not specify the extent of "Chinese waters".

The Chinese Coast Guard is a military organization which belongs to the Chinese Armed Police Force under the command of the Central Military Commission. The Chinese authorities under the Coast Guard Law can exercise their own discretion in designating the sphere of Coast Guard's activities and applying enforcement measures. Such a law may jeopardize the fundamental principle of the international maritime order which calls for finding peaceful solutions to conflicts.

Expressing serious concern over the law in question, the Japanese government only says that the operation of the law, if it goes against international law, is unacceptable. Japan should forcefully criticize China's Coast Guard Law for violating international law and should demand in a diplomatic manner that China rescind the law.
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