Now, China pledges to board and search ships 'illegally' entering disputed South China Sea
Police in the southern Chinese island province of Hainan will board and search ships that enter into what China consider its territorial waters in the disputed South China Sea.
The South China Sea is Asia's biggest potential military trouble spot with several Asian countries claiming sovereignty over it.
From January 1, Hainan police will have the authority to board and seize control of foreign ships which 'illegally enter' Chinese waters and order them to change course or stop sailing, the China Daily reported.
"Activities such as entering the island province's waters without permission, damaging coastal defence facilities and engaging in publicity that threatens national security are illegal," the English-language newspaper said.
"If foreign ships or crew members violate regulations, Hainan police have the right to take over the ships or their communication systems, under the revised regulations," it added.
According to the Age, China's assertion of sovereignty over the waters off its south coast and to the east of mainland Southeast Asia has set it directly against Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also lay claim to parts.
China occasionally detains fishermen, mostly from Vietnam, who it accuses of operating illegally in Chinese waters, though generally frees them quite quickly, the report said.
According to the report, the Chinese newspaper said that the government will also send new maritime surveillance ships to join the fleet responsible for patrolling the South China Sea.