China notifies new guidelines to control international ships in its waters

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To regulate foreign ships, China on Sunday announced new maritime regulations that will allow ships with radioactive material, bulk oil, chemicals and a variety of other supplies to report the details of the cargoes as they enter Chinese waters.

The new rules are expected to add to tensions as China strictly enforces them in the controversial South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, where the US and its allies have conducted naval expeditions, and questions Beijing’s claims to free navigation enforcement.

Beijing claims almost the entire 1.3 million square miles of the South China Sea as its territory. China is building military bases on man-made islands in the region also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

According to a notice from the Chinese maritime safety authorities released over the weekend, operators of submersibles, nuclear ships, ships carrying radioactive substances and ships carrying bulk oil, chemicals, liquefied petroleum gas and other toxic and harmful substances are required to provide their detailed information on their visits to Chinese territorial waters.

In addition to these types of ships, ships that could endanger the statutory maritime safety of China should follow the new regulation, which will come into force on September 1, the state-run Global Times quoted the message from the Maritime Safety Administration.

These ships should report the name, call sign, current position and next port of call and estimated time of arrival. The report also requires the name of the dangerous goods on board and the load carrying weight, the report says.

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Chinese experts told the Global Times that they see the introduction of such maritime regulations as a sign of increased efforts to safeguard China’s national security at sea by introducing strict rules to improve the ability to identify ships.

The reference to submersibles reportedly refers to spy devices found by Chinese fishermen on the Chinese coast.

Song Zhongping, a military expert and television commentator, said the new announcement shows China’s determination to regulate the right of use of foreign ships in the country’s territorial waters based on proper identification.

Tensions between China and the US over Taiwan and the South China Sea, as well as growing disagreement between the two countries over the origin of the coronavirus, Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong, remained high after Joe Biden took office as US President in January this year .

The Chinese Ministry of Defense described the crossing of two US naval vessels through the Taiwan Strait, which the US Pacific Fleet described as a routine operation, as provocative.

This was the eighth time US naval ships passed the canal after Biden became president.

The frequent provocative movements [the passage of American vessels] are of very bad nature and show that the US is the biggest destroyer of peace and stability and the biggest culprit of cross-strait security risks, said China Defense Ministry spokesman Tan Kefei.

The US Navy and Air Force also conducted such missions in the controversial South China Sea to enforce freedom of navigation and to question China’s claims to sovereignty over the area.

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