All foreign vessels required to obtain approval

A new fishing regulation outlined by a Chinese province requiring all foreign vessels to obtain approval before entering the disputed waters of the South China Sea has stirred regional concern, even as China on Friday defended the measures and accused the United States of fanning tensions.

With Washington describing the move as “provocative and potentially dangerous,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry responded on Friday saying its 30-year-old fisheries laws had been “consistently implemented in a normal way and never caused any tension.”

The official Xinhua news agency hit out at the U.S. in less diplomatic language, accusing Washington of “resorting to the old trick of divide and rule.”

“First it stirs up tensions, disputes and even conflicts, then steps in to pose as mediator or judge in a bid to maximise its own interests,” a commentary said, adding: “Washington’s accusations are unreasonable, as China’s fishing regulations are in line with international practice and aimed at strengthening the protection of fishery resources and maritime environment. The United States itself has similar ones.”

The new measures, which take effect from January 1, will be administered by the southern island province of Hainan. China’s maritime claims is contested by more than 10 countries.

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