Home Asian News Chinese militia ships depart for disputes in the South China Sea -...

Chinese militia ships depart for disputes in the South China Sea – The Diplomat

In mid-March, the Philippines discovered that a reef in its exclusive economic zone was being occupied by numerous nearly identical Chinese fishing vessels, later identified as part of the force. China’s marine militia. Their presence raises concerns that China might take a move to gain effective control of a new site in the heated South China Sea.

According to the as for the Philippine Foreign Minister, only a handful of Chinese militia ships remained at the Whitsun Reef as of April 13.

Known by the Philippines as Julian Felipe Reef and China’s Niu’e Jiao, Whitsun Reef is 170 nautical miles west of Palawan in the northern part of the Spratly archipelago, where China has built several large man-made islands on the formerly sunken reef and main building. military works.

At one point, the Philippine Department of Defense counted 220 Chinese ships in the reef. Many or mostly believed to be part of China’s maritime militia, the light paramilitary vessels that China uses to harass and coerce fishermen of other Southeast Asian countries in the region. the sea that China claims is its own. Marine militia ships were also responsible for the scandal trouble of a US Navy surveillance ship in 2009.

When asked if China intends to maintain a permanent presence at Whitsun Reef, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to speak that “China has no such plans.” But he also reiterated China’s stance that the reef is Chinese territory and that the 2016 UN Court ruling in favor of the Philippines over disputed features in the South China Sea is “illegal. , void”. The spokesperson added that the Philippines should “immediately stop indiscriminate advertising.”

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He also emphasized that these ships are storm shelter fishing vessels – “It is a millennial custom for Chinese fishing vessels to work and shelter in relevant waters” – and they are not under the power. China’s maritime militia.

However, fleet photos show little or no evidence of fishing equipment on board the ships. Analysts from the US Naval War College were able to prove that some ships are known to be part of the maritime militia and most of the others fit the type built for militia units for the Sanya city, which China uses to administer territory. territorial waters and waters they claim in the South China Sea.

Philippine Defense Minister request that China withdraws the ships and the foreign minister has filed a diplomatic objection to Beijing. The Philippines has sent a naval task force patrol area and warships of the United States of America concentrate in the area for the past week, including a carrier strike group and an amphibious group.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s insistence that ships are sheltering in “rough sea conditions” on the reef is evidenced by a row of photos taken over the past few weeks showing boats hovering over calm waters.

The Philippines was haunted by losing effective control of Scarborough Shoal in 2012 when China rejected a US-brokered deal for both countries to withdraw their ships from a standstill. China continues to fish there and patrol the shoal with both its maritime militia and coast guard ships, denying its use against Filipino fishermen, who have been fishing in their waters for several years. generation. When it appeared that China was preparing to reclaim and build on Scarborough Shoal in a similar manner to the Spratly Islands, the United States reported intervened behind the scenes to deter Beijing. China’s long-term targets for the Whitsun Reef are unclear and may not yet be decided by the Chinese leadership.

It is still unclear why Chinese militia ships leave the reef and whether they can return. In the worst case scenario, they can return with assistance from the Chinese coast or navy. If China moves so vigorously, it could trigger a significant crisis. So far, China’s island construction has taken place in areas that China occupied previously. Acquiring control of a new reef and building military facilities on it would be a significant escalation in the effort to expand control in the South China Sea.



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