Editor's note 1//24/2015: This article takes us back to the very start of the now militarily organized, armed, and aggressive Chinese coast guard, now the world's largest coast guard fleet. The Dragon's coast guard is unique in the world as it is designed to intimidate neighbors into surrendering soverignity over their watery territories they are entitled to under the International Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS). The Chinese coast guard is a gloved mailed fist in comparison to other coast guards which are basically maritime law enforcement agencies and search and rescue organizations. Its amazing to think that on the last day of of 2012, the Chinese Coast Guard was only an idea being written about by a Chinese General. Today it is a marauding reality in the South and East China Seas.
CHINESE GENERAL ARGUES FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A NATIONAL COAST GUARD
|Chinese Ocean Surveillance Service "Cutter"image from Google Images|
At present China has several agencies that perform Coast Guard like functions. Some work for the central government, others for the various provincial governments. There is a national fisheries enforcement service , and provincial fishing regulators as well. The closest thing to a recognizable Coast Guard is the new "Ocean Surveillance Service." Separate agencies also deal with maritime safety, search and rescue, and aids to navigation.
The United States Coast Guard arose out of a similar collection of loosely related agencies including the Revenue Marine, Light House Service, Life Saving Service, and Bureau of Navigation. Of these the U.S.Revenue Marine was actually considered military since its founding in 1790 and was required by statute to go into service with the Navy in times of War or when ordered by the President. In 1917 the various services were integrated into the "U.S. Coast Guard" under the commissioned leadership of the old Revenue Marine. The combined service was declared a duly constituted "armed force" outside of the Defense Department (then the Department of War) and continued the obligation to serve as a distinct service within the Navy in war time and national emergency. Cutters were armed with not only weapons useful in law enforcement but some serious naval anti ship weapons as well. The service had to remain outside of the Defense Department in order to carry out criminal law enforcement duties but was a distinctly armed service of considerable military or naval utility.
Chinese general officers are starting to speculate in public now over China's apparent "need" for a military Coast Guard. The decision to unify maritime security and law enforcement efforts under a single military service would not be difficult for China. Their existing Ocean Surveillance Service could easily fulfill the role of the U.S. Revenue marine at the moment of the institutional conception of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Prior to the formation of China's present collection of maritime agencies China pursued its claims to the "First Island Chain" via its Navy. Our initial introduction to the continuing series "How Far Will The Dragon Swim" began with a video tape of Chinese Navy vessels machine gunning to death Vietnamese unarmed sailors standing knee deep in water attempting to plant their flag on a reef that was much closer to their mainland than China's.
China still uses thug tactics in its maritime pressure upon its neighbors to surrender islands , reefs, and coastal waters. But since switching to lightly armed or unarmed fisheries enforcement vessels and the Coast Guard like Ocean Surveillance Service the harassment hasn't included mass murder. It is not illogical but it is disturbing that China now wants to militarize her Coast Guard forces.
For the story from the Chinese view click on the link below: