ASEAN member defense chiefs have expressed their concern over the ongoing activities of the Chinese in the South China Sea. In the 15th ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM), there were several ASEAN defense ministers who said they were perturbed over the China Coast Guard law which has been passed in January.
This recent Chinese naval law has given power to the China’s coast guard to use “all necessary means” to prevent any threats coming from vessels of foreigners. This new law also gives permission to board and inspect these foreign vessels in “waters claimed by China,” as well as the authority to destroy the structures of other countries that were built on the reefs along the disputed territories.
The Manila defense department states that the defense chiefs have noted the ambiguous application of the law in the South China Sea in which other ASEAN member states such as Indonesia and Vietnam have claims as well.
The defense officials also emphasized that it is important to have freedom of navigation and the early release of the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea. The Code of Conduct is anticipated to resolve the disputes in several contested features in the South China Sea.