Police in the southern Chinese island province of Hainan will board and search ships which illegally enter what China considers its territory in the disputed South China Sea, state media said on Thursday, a move likely to add to tensions.
The South China Sea is Asia’s biggest potential military trouble spot with several Asian countries claiming sovereignty over waters believed to be rich in oil and gas.
The shortest route between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, it has some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. More than half the globe’s oil tanker traffic passes through it.
New rules, which come into effect on January 1, will allow Hainan police to board and seize control of foreign ships which “illegally enter” Chinese waters and order them to change course or stop sailing, the official China Daily reported.