Author Topic: China’s Maritime Militia Upends Rules on Naval Warfare  (Read 815 times)

adroth

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China’s Maritime Militia Upends Rules on Naval Warfare
« on: January 21, 2019, 06:57:42 AM »
China’s Maritime Militia Upends Rules on Naval Warfare
The use of fishing vessels as a maritime militia has profound legal implications.

By James Kraska
August 10, 2015
     
https://thediplomat.com/2015/08/chinas-maritime-militia-upends-rules-on-naval-warfare/
 
China operates a network of fishing vessels organized into a maritime militia with paramilitary roles in peacetime and during armed conflict. The maritime militia forms an irregular naval force that provides the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) with an inexpensive force multiplier, raising operational, legal and political challenges for any opponent. The sheer size and scope of the vast network of China’s maritime militia complicates the battlespace, degrades any opponent’s decision-making process and exposes adversaries to political dilemmas that will make them more cautious to act against China during a maritime crisis or naval war. The legal implications are no less profound.

The maritime militia erases the longstanding distinction between warships and civilian ships in the law of naval warfare, which is analyzed in depth in a recent Naval War College study, The Law of Naval Warfare and China’s Maritime Militia. The law of naval warfare protects coastal fishing vessels from capture or attack during armed conflict. Although warships may engage civilian fishing vessels that assist enemy forces, it may be virtually impossible to distinguish between legitimate craft and those that are integrated into the PLAN as an auxiliary naval force. Regardless of whether the maritime militia plays a decisive combat role, its presence in the theater of war confronts opponents with vexing legal and operational dilemmas.

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With 200,000 vessels, China operates the largest fishing fleet in the world, and its commercial industry employs 14 million people – 25 percent of the world’s total. This massive enterprise operates in conjunction with the armed forces to promote Beijing’s strategic objectives in the South China Sea and East China Sea. The militia, for example, were involved in the 1974 invasion of the Paracel Islands, as well as impeding freedom of navigation of U.S. military survey ships. The maritime militia also provides logistics support to Chinese warships. In May 2008, for example, militia fishing craft transferred ammunition and fuel to two warships near Zhejiang Province.

Fishermen are assigned to collectives or attached to civilian companies and receive military training and political education in order to mobilize and promote China’s interests in the oceans. The fishing vessels of the militia are equipped with advanced electronics, including communications systems and radar that supplement the PLAN force structure and enhance interoperability with other agencies, such as the China Coast Guard. Many boats are equipped with satellite navigation and can track and relay vessel positions, and gather and report maritime intelligence.

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« Last Edit: January 21, 2019, 07:09:07 AM by adroth »

adroth

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Re: China’s Maritime Militia Upends Rules on Naval Warfare
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2019, 07:26:39 AM »
China maintaining maritime militia in Spratlys, says expert
Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) - December 10, 2018 - 1:52pm

MANILA, Philippines — What appears to be Chinese fishing vessels stationed on a Manila-claimed reef in the West Philippine Sea are actually paramilitary forces, according to a maritime expert.

Gregory Poling, director of Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, bared a satellite image of Subi Reef with about 200 boats in its lagoon last August.

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The maritime expert noted that Beijing has established 24/7 constant presence of naval and coast guard vessels, as well as maritime militia, in the South China Sea in the previous years.

China has been claiming indisputable sovereignty over the entire South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea. It has refused to acknowledge a July 2016 arbitral ruling that invalidated its nine-dash line claim over the contested waterway.

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Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/12/10/1875846/china-maintaining-maritime-militia-spratlys-says-expert#ZCmzuqCyqGJ1H4uz.99