MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines on Saturday denounced Chinese plans to search ships sailing through what Beijing says is its territory in the South China Sea in the latest irritant between the countries.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the plans should be condemned by the international community because they violate maritime domains of countries in the region and impede freedom of navigation.
Chinese state media announced the plans, saying southern Hainan province, which Beijing says administers the South China Sea, had approved laws giving its police the right to search vessels that pass through the waters.
Last week the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and India protested a map on a new Chinese passport that depicts disputed areas as belonging to China.
The Philippine statement said it wants Beijing to "immediately clarify its reported plans to interdict ships that enter what it considers its territory in the South China Sea."