China bulks up mar­itime fleet

More ships be­ing built to meet need for stronger law en­force­ment: ex­pert

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By WANG QIAN wangqian@chi­

China is ex­pand­ing its coast guard fleet to bet­ter pro­tect the coun­try’s mar­itime rights, the State Oceanic Ad­min­is­tra­tion said on Thurs­day.

The coun­try will speed up the con­struc­tion of 20 in­spec­tion ships this year and plans to pur­chase pa­trol ships and planes, the agency’s di­rec­tor Liu Cigui said at its an­nual con­fer­ence on Thurs­day.

A new in­spec­tion ship joined a Chi­nese fleet pa­trolling the South China Sea on Jan 10, and more are ex­pected to join soon. The 4,000-ton ves­sel is the first ship to join the fleet since the China Mar­itime Po­lice Bureau was es­tab­lished in July.

The bureau is a con­sol­i­da­tion of the China Mar­itime Sur­veil­lance, the coast guard force of the Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity, the fish­ery law en­force­ment com­mand of the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture and the mar­itime an­ti­smug­gling au­thor­i­ties of the Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cus­toms.

The con­sol­i­da­tion has brought 16,300 of the coun­try’s mar­itime law en­force­ment per­son­nel un­der one agency, ac­cord­ing to the

China’s abil­ity to pro­tect its mar­itime rights lags far be­hind Ja­pan and South Korea.” WANG HAN­LING MAR­ITIME LAW SPE­CIAL­IST AT THE CHI­NESE ACADEMY OF SO­CIAL SCIENCES

SOA’s re­struc­tur­ing plan pub­lished in July.

With more coun­tries chal­leng­ing China’s ter­ri­to­rial rights in re­cent years, the coun­try has been strength­en­ing its mar­itime law en­force­ment ca­pac­ity to bet­ter safe­guard its in­ter­ests.

Last year, China Mar­itime Sur­veil­lance car­ried out 36 pa­trol trips and 402 flights, ac­cord­ing to the SOA. The pa­trol trips, which spent 262 days at sea, de­tected 188 for­eign ships and 21 for­eign planes that in­truded upon China’s mar­itime ter­ri­tory.

Af­ter Tokyo an­nounced its in­ten­tion to “pur­chase” and “na­tion­al­ize” China’s Diaoyu Is­lands in Septem­ber, Chi­nese fleets were sent out 50 times to pa­trol the is­lands’ waters. In the South China Sea, Viet­nam, Malaysia, the Philip­pines and Brunei have com­pet­ing claims over sev­eral Chi­nese is­lands.

Wang Han­ling, a mar­itime law spe­cial­ist at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, said in­creas­ing pres­sure on China’s mar­itime law en­force­ment has cre­ated the need to build more ships.

“China’s abil­ity to pro­tect its mar­itime rights lags far be­hind Ja­pan and South Korea,” Wang said.

Be­sides im­prov­ing mar­itime law en­force­ment, Liu said de­ten­tion ar­eas will be con­structed for ships seized for il­le­gally sail­ing in Chi­nese waters.

Qi Jianguo, for­mer Chi­nese am­bas­sador to Viet­nam, said th­ese moves demon­strate China’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to pre­pare it­self for com­pli­cated mar­itime dis­putes.

The coun­try’s mar­itime econ­omy is boom­ing and rev­enues reached 5.4 tril­lion yuan ($871 bil­lion) last year, an in­crease of 7.9 per­cent from the pre­vi­ous year, the SOA said.

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