China Prepares for Clash In South China Sea
China: China Thursday announced the start of its annual 10-week fishing ban "in most parts of the South China Sea" for rehabilitating marine resources.
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"Foreign boats will also be strictly banned from fishing in the area during the period," China Daily reported, quoting Wu Zhuang, Director of the South China Seas Fishery Bureau under the Ministry of Agriculture.
Wu said fishing equipment will be confiscated and fishermen will be expelled if foreign boats are found fishing in the area. "In the past, we have found some foreign boats entering the region to fish during the period of the ban. We will strengthen monitoring efforts to prevent any foreign boats from entering the area."
Last year, China's fishing ban was not recognized by some Southeast Asian countries as they said it extended into their territorial waters, according to Chinese press.
Comment: The Chinese have announced a ban on fishing in the South China Sea since 1999, according to Chinese press. Many countries in Southeast Asia do not recognize the Chinese claims, so the vigor with which China enforces the claim directly influences regional relations and the likelihood of confrontations at sea.
Chinese enforcement has been tightening steadily in the past year, but this will be the first closure during President Xi's administration. At the National People's Congress he stressed to the armed and security forces the importance of protecting Chinese sovereignty. Since then, more aggressive Chinese patrols and fishing have occurred near and around the Senkakus and probably will occur in the South China Sea this summer.