Philippine analysts expressed concern that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has set the stage for a full-blown armed conflict in the South China Sea. A recently implemented new draft law significantly increased the Chinese coast guard’s power to conduct coastal attacks in the area. 

As experts warned in communication with the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the new legislation allows the CCP’s coast guard to fire on foreign vessels in disputed waters, board and inspect ships and demolish structures built by other countries.

Fernando Hicap, president of Pamalakaya, a federation of small fishermen’s organizations, said the legislation “contradicts the principle of freedom of navigation recognized by international maritime law.”

In the same statement, Hicap warned that the law is “practically a declaration of war against countries that are legitimate claimants to the marine territory claimed by China.” It also assured that the measure would undoubtedly fuel the “hatred of Filipinos toward China.”

As stipulated in the new bill draft, the communist regime’s coast guard will now be able to use “all necessary means” to stop or prevent threats from foreign vessels. The “threats” referred to are ambiguous and subjective, making it very easy to justify an attack, they complain.

The scope of the attacks is not limited only to Chinese waters but also allows the coast guard to board and inspect foreign vessels in waters claimed by the CCP and demolish structures built by other countries in disputed waters.

As it turns out, the new legislation indicates that the CCP’s military has shifted from a strategy of defense to a clear path of attack and advance. 

The Chinese coast guard will now be able to attack anyone, armed or unarmed, in territorial waters that they claim as their own, even though it is known and approved by the international community that such claims are illegitimate.

As reported by SCMP, former Philippine Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio told local media this week, “China’s [the CCP’s] new law violates the United Nations Charter that prohibits the use of force to resolve territorial or maritime disputes. If China applies its new law to the Pag-asa or Ayungin Shoal islands, that clearly violates the charter of commitment.”

“The use of coast guards to defend maritime boundaries is a sign that a plausible war may occur,” Carpio added.

Conflicts between the CCP and the Philippines are not new. In fact, in March last year, the Philippines made a strong denunciation when several senators expressed their concern about the possible infiltration of up to 3,000 CCP soldiers in their country, with a so far unknown mission, Philippine media reported.