Jul 24, 2013

    China Coast Guard makes debut

    CHINA'S new unified coast-guard agency has gone into operation amid maritime disputes with its neighbours, the state media reported yesterday, and experts said more ships will be armed as a result.

    The China Coast Guard integrates marine surveillance, the existing coast guard which came under the police, fisheries law enforcement and Customs' anti-smuggling maritime police.

    The divisions "that were not allowed to be equipped with weapons can now be armed", Dr Yang Mian, a professor of international relations at the Communication University of China, was quoted as saying by the Global Times newspaper.

    Mr Zhang Junshe, a military researcher, said the agency will deal with conflicts in the disputed waters according to Chinese law. That will "show the international community that China has indisputable jurisdiction over the waters", he said.

    The Chinese coast guard will have 11 squadrons and more than 16,000 personnel, according to various media reports.

    Mr Gary Li, an analyst with research firm IHS, said the fleet will give China "more stamina" for coast-guard patrols in the disputed waters.

    The move "will have significant impact on China's territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas around the Senkaku/Diaoyu and the Spratly Islands, respectively", he wrote in a research note.

    Dr Arthur Ding, a Taipei-based researcher at the National Chengchi University, said: "Clampdowns on so-called illegal acts are likely to increase, with frictions between neighbouring countries expected to rise."