This analysis on the newly revealed South China Sea fishing rules issued by Hainan province suggests that while the rules aren’t consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, they aren’t necessarily a power grab by China. MIT political science professor Taylor Fravel writes:
…the main purpose of the implementing measures appears to be strengthening the regulation of fishing for an island province with a large fishing industry, not further bolstering China’s claims to fishing rights in the South China Sea.
So there you go. The revelation of the laws (first published in a rightwing US publication, the Washington Free Beacon) may not be an outright escalation of China’s claim. At the same time, based on China’s earlier actions in the South China Sea, the fear from neighbors is understandable. And to add a little context, the US itself isn’t a signatory to the UNCLOS.