China has passed a law that for the first time explicitly allows its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels, a move that could make the contested South China Sea and nearby waters more choppy.
China has maritime sovereignty disputes with Japan in the East China Sea and with several Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea.
It has sent its coast guard to chase away fishing vessels from other countries, sometimes resulting in the sinking of these vessels.
China’s top legislative body, the National People’s Congress standing committee, passed the Coast Guard Law on Friday, according to state media reports.
According to draft wording in the bill published earlier, the coast guard is allowed to use “all necessary means” to stop or prevent threats from foreign vessels.