China’s Xi tells coast guard to enforce maritime law

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s President Xi Jinping has said the country’s coast guard must enforce maritime law and crack down on “criminal activities” to defend China’s territorial sovereignty, state media reported on Friday.

Xi made the comments as he inspected the China Coast Guard’s command office for the East China Sea area and the performance of the coast guard’s ships by video, Xinhua news agency reported.

“It is necessary to establish and improve the coordination and cooperation mechanism of maritime law enforcement, severely crack down on illegal and criminal activities at sea,” Xi said.

The president also said it is necessary to “pragmatically carry out exchanges and cooperation with foreign countries in maritime law enforcement, and actively participate in international and regional maritime governance.”

The Chinese coast guard has had several confrontations with vessels from the Philippines in disputed territorial waters in the South China Sea.

China’s top leader also said it was important to maintain the healthy development of China’s marine economy.

(Reporting by Ella Cao and Bernard Orr, editing by Christina Fincher and Barbara Lewis)