Chinese coast guard involved in most South China Sea clashes, new research tracking maritime law enforcement incidents
Hong Kong, September 7: Increasingly assertive action by China’s coast guard ships in the South China Sea risks destabilising the region, according to the authors of new research tracking maritime law enforcement incidents across the vital trade route.
“The evidence is clear that there is a pattern of behavior from China that is contrary to what law enforcement usually involves,” Glaser told Reuters.
“We’re seeing bullying, harassment and ramming of vessels from countries whose coast guard and fishing vessels are much smaller, often to assert sovereignty throughout the South China Sea.”
It is being published as Chinese coast guard and other vessels return to Scarborough, sparking formal diplomatic protests from Manila.
The research defines an incident where a nation’s coast guard or navy has used coercive measures beyond routine law enforcement action.
In the short term, Glaser said she believed the risk of injury or death could be worse in civilian clashes than among navies patrolling the South China Sea, given the frequency and intensity of incidents in recent years.
Encounters by rival coast guards are not yet covered by expanding communications arrangements that are geared to preventing clashes between the region’s naval forces.
The survey cites research showing the unifying of China’s civilian maritime fleets in 2013, coupled with on-going budget increases, has given it the world’s largest coast guard.
It now deploys some 205 vessels, including 95 ships over 1,000 tonnes, according to the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence – a far larger fleet than other regional countries, including Japan.
China claims much of the South China Sea, which carries the bulk of Northeast Asia’s trade with the rest of the world. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims in the area.