China is contemplating revising its maritime safety law to make foreign submersibles travel on the surface and report their movements to Chinese officials when it enters the country’s territorial waters, state media said Tuesday.
"Foreign submersibles, passing though territorial waters of the People's Republic of China, should travel on the surface, raise their national flag, and report to Chinese maritime management administrations," the official China News Service reported, citing a draft revision, according to Reuters.
The revised policy would allow Chinese naval officials to stop foreign ships from entering Chinese waters if they are found to be potentially harmful to navigational safety and order, the news service added. The revisions were reportedly based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and Chinese laws on the sea, neighboring areas and exclusive economic zones.
Furthermore, the changes will "increase the basic system of managing foreign ships entering and exiting territorial waters, inoffensive passage, right of hot pursuit and expulsion," the China News Service reported.
Last December, Beijing seized a U.S. underwater drone in the disputed South China Sea. The move garnered criticism from Washington. However, China returned the drone and criticized the U.S. for “hyping up” the matter.
China is also involved in dispute with several countries over the South China Sea. The country has reportedly been building runways and ports on islands in the contested waters to further its claim over the region. However, Beijing has consistently defended its actions, saying it does not intend to start a conflict and that its operations will actually add to the safety of the region. Apart from China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have also laid territorial claims over the South China Sea.