The Philippines and Vietnam on Friday issued statements [Philippines DFA press release] condemning a new Chinese law that will require foreign fisherman to obtain approval from China before fishing in large portions of the South China Sea. Both nations expressed anger over the law, claiming that it unnecessarily complicates relations between the countries and creates new tensions over territorial disputes. The Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs statement claimed the move "unnecessarily complicates the situation in the South China Sea, and threatens the peace and stability of the region." A Vietnamese spokesperson reportedly demanded [WP report] that China immediately abolish the action in order to maintain peace and stability. The Philippines has asked China to give clarification of the new regulation, saying that China is in violation of international law under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and of a 2002 agreement between members of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to maintain the status quo in the South China Sea. China has become increasingly assertive in enforcing its territorial claims in the region, leading to tense conflict between the nation and its regional neighbors.
Territorial disputes over the South China Sea have been [JURIST Forum] an ongoing source of tension between China and its neighboring countries. Many national claims to territory overlap, causing uncertainty and efforts by many of the nations attempting to assert their claims. In January 2013 the Philippines notified [JURIST report] China of its intention to seek international arbitration to declare many of China's territorial claims in the South China Sea illegal. China claims ownership of the majority of the Sea, an area rich in resources and minerals.