Draft maritime law revisions say China may bar foreign ships from passing through its waters

Updated 2017-02-15 15:26:57 Global Times

China is considering revisions to its 1984 Maritime Traffic Safety Law which would allow the relevant authorities to bar foreign ships from passing through Chinese territorial waters, the Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday.

The Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council announced Tuesday it is soliciting public opinions on the revisions.

The revisions are based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and Chinese laws on the sea, adjacent areas and exclusive economic zones, the office said.

The draft would empower Chinese maritime authorities to prevent foreign ships from entering Chinese waters if it is decided that the ships may harm traffic safety and order.

The revisions stipulate that the authorities will be able to designate specific areas and bar foreign ships from passing through those areas according to their own assessment of maritime traffic safety.

Foreign submersibles should travel on the surface, display national flags and report to Chinese maritime management administrations when they pass China's water areas, the draft says. They should also get approval from the relevant administration to enter China's internal waters and ports.

Foreign ships that violate Chinese laws should be expelled, according to the draft.

The draft also states that people in distress at sea have the right to be rescued without charge, adding that human lives should come before the environment and assets.

The State Council and local governments should set up maritime search and rescue centers, if needed, to organize, coordinate and command rescue operations, the draft says. Civilian groups are also encouraged by the revised regulations to set up rescue teams and participate in such operations.

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