China Coast Guard

The CCG is rapidly expanding its fleet with large and well-equipped ships. CCG 2401, commissioned in 2014, displaces 4,000 tonnes.

Giving the Coast Guard a military mandate is “a sign that a plausible war can occur” in the South China Sea.

China passed a “game changer” law on January 22 that authorizes its coast guard to open fire on foreign vessels in waters the Chinese “illegally claim” is the latest sign that Beijing is edging the world toward conflict.

The bill’s draft wording says the Chinese Coast Guard may take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.”

The legislation specifies that handheld, ship borne and airborne weapons can be used. It also allows the Coast Guard to demolish structures built by other nations on features in disputed waters, and to board and inspect foreign vessels.

The law will have the most bearing in the South China Sea, large parts of which, international law says fall in the exclusive economic zones of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. But China has no regard for international law and claims nearly the entire vast sea as its own.

The Type 818 cutter seen armed with a 76 mm main gun and 30 mm support guns.

“China claims entire South China Sea and is building islands to enforce it. Five other countries have overlapping claims.” — Mountaineer (@TehachapiHomes) December 29, 2016

It is notable that the law concerns not China’s navy but its coast guard, which is the largest in the world. In the past, China’s coast guard was already overstepping the bounds of a typical coast guard force by harassing other nations’ vessels in disputed waters. But since the new law gives the Coast Guard a “military mandate”, we can expect it to behave far more aggressively in such confrontations going forward.

Defense analyst Chester Cabalza discussed that aspect of the legislation with the South China Morning Post: The law transforms a “white” force intended for search and rescue and policing into a dangerous “gray” arm of the military, he said. Cabalza said that in this way, the new law is a game changer.”

Cabalza continued, saying that giving the Coast Guard a full military mandate is “a sign that a plausible war can occur” in the South China Sea. “If China uses force to defend its territory from enemies, possessing the world’s largest coast guard [will be] a time bomb that can explode any time.”

CCG vessels are often seen with powerful weaponry on patrol in the East China Sea.

China’s increasing aggression in the South China Sea is indeed “steering the world toward war.”

Since the end of World War II, America protected this vital trade route and brought peace to this part of the world. Now the American military is retreating, and other great powers are coming in to fill the vacuum. China is intimidating the nations of Southeast Asia into submission to its will. It is forcing these countries to do what it wants.

This is why China’s moves to militarize the South China Sea should be so concerning.

China’s behavior in the South China Sea, including its “game-changing” decision to turn its coast guard into an arm of its military, is leading in the direction of war.

The CCG is rapidly modernizing and expanding its fleet with high-end capabilities. Seen on the left is the Type 818 cutter, which is based on the navy’s Type 054A frigate design.

China is intimidating the less powerful nations in the region with the goal of eventually cutting off America’s and other nations’ access to the South China Sea.

China Coast Guard with Muscles
China Coast Guard ship pays visit to Philippines

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