Friday, August 7, 2015

Beijing Expands Its Maritime Militia of Armed Commercial Fishing Boats In South China Sea


US Coast Guard cutter Rush escorting the illegal fishing boat Da Cheng back to China.
Photo Credit : USCG

EDITOR'S NOTE 9/8/2018 We noted the formation of the Chinese Coast Guard as it happened. We have noted previously that the Chinese "coast guard" does not operate in a manner similar to traditional coast guards except for claiming law enforcement jurisdiction, all too often in places where it has no such authority. We have published posts about the Chinese Cabbage Patch Strategy of surrounding other nation's off shore islands with rings of commercial fishing boats and then backing up their "fishing fleet" with coast guard and naval vessels and guns. However since we first published this post in 2015 we haven't mentioned again that China has armed and militarized her commercial fishing fleet into a "naval militia". For the reasons described in this 2015 post that is a very irresponsible and dangerous thing to do. We are republishing this post now and promoting it because this crazy dragon feat hasn't been widely enough discussed or analyzed in maritime forums. 

Now That China's Commercial Fishing Fleet Is Armed And Labeled A "Maritime Militia" Will They Leave American, Japanese Or Philippine Waters As Peacefully Ever Again? Given China's Naval Inexperience This Seems A Surefire Way to Start A Naval Shooting War. 

Not long ago we carried the news that China was organizing its commercial fishing fleet into an armed naval militia. The Dragon is now starting to arm that maritime militia and with that new muscle, will continue to aggressively expand its thieving activity against the maritime exclusive economic zones of its neighbors. The concept of naval militias is not new, indeed the United States had a number of state naval militias almost since the Revolution. New York has one today and a portion of the Texas State Guard is considered maritime in character and mission assignments.  Characterized by armed civilian commercial fishing boats China's maritime militia is the Dragon's newest and least studied force for maritime territorial theft. The maritime militia is usually deployed by the Chinese government to carry out various types of missions in disputed waters, from rescuing stranded vessels to conducting controversial island landings. But the boats are armed and the crews not well trained. This could lead to unintended trouble. China ridiculously claims the entire South China Seas practically right up to the beach line of the Philippine main Islands. The Dragon knows that no matter how little the world may protest their island and reef grabbing antics beyond their neighbor's 12 mile territorial limit, armed incursions inside any one's 12 mile limit could be interpreted as an act of war, especially if shots are fired. China's fishing fleet is already excessively aggressively encouraged as it is by the Chinese navy and coast guard. But arming the fishermen themselves looks like a big mistake. If some ill trained fisherman shoots at a Philippine naval or coast guard vessel , especially in close in waters it will be promptly blown out of the water. 

 When the inevitable exchange of fire between one of these armed fishermen and a Philippine, Vietnam, Singaporean coast guard vessel occurs will the Chinese claim that a "war ship" of their flag was attacked, or an errant and well meaning fisherman? China says the militarization of their fishing fleet will boost production. The only way arming fishing boats increases production is if you intend to rob the protected fishing grounds of another nation state. Once armed what will keep the fishermen from assuming that their "jurisdiction" and "sovereign immunity" don't extend to offshore Guam or Wake Island. Will they surrender peacefully when arrested by the U.S. Coast Guard. 

 The maritime militia is pretty rag tag now but China is trying to build its first state owned commercial fishing fleet and first rank of the armed fishing vessel militia.  We would suspect that the state owned and organized vessels might more closely respond to naval controls. But right now the Dragon has created Dodge City out there in the south China Sea. This is not going to end well.

Read more in the CHINA TIMES 

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