China fronts maritime militia to propel interest in South China Sea – US Defense Report
Marje Pelayo • June 18, 2019 • 2954
MANILA, Philippines – The United States Defense Department in a report revealed that China has long been establishing its power and expanding its domain even as early as 2002.
According to the US Defense Department’s 2018 Annual Report to Congress, the 21st century’s initial two decades are described as China’s “period of strategic opportunity”.
“They assess that international conditions during this time will facilitate domestic development and the expansion of China’s “comprehensive national power,” the report said.
According to the US, this is part of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) measure to support President Xi Jinping’s “China Dream of national rejuvenation” aimed at establishing “a powerful and prosperous China.”
Part of the plan is to mobilize maritime militia specifically the People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia (PAFMM) which is an armed reserve force composed of civilians.
China is the only nation in the world that has a government-sanctioned maritime militia which vary in composition and mission depending on a specific unit and location.
Based on the report, “PAFMM plays a major role in coercive activities to achieve China’s political goals without fighting” specifically in relation to movements in the South China Sea.
It is guided by China’s military doctrine which states that “confrontational operations short of war can be an effective means of accomplishing political objectives.”
PAFMM has been involved in a number of confrontations at sea such as 2009 harassment of the USNS IMPECCABLE Surveillance Ship; the Scarborough Reef standoff in 2012; the Haiyang Shiyou-981 oil rig standoff in 2014; and the surge of large ships in waters near Senkakus Islands near Japan in 2016.
The US report said China uses its maritime militia for purposes of surveillance, logistical support, and for search and rescue operations.
In the past, China used to rent small fishing vessels from local fishermen or private fishing firms to execute its objectives but later on, China decided to build state-owned sea vessels for that purpose.
For instance, the Hainan provincial government in 2016 built 84 large fishing vessels with fine-scale features and built-in arsenal.
The government even reinstated into reserve force newly retired military personnel complete with subsidy and monthly salary.
In his speech during the anniversary of the Philippine Navy, President Rodrigo Duterte implied that the Philippines cannot and will not win any war against China given the latter’s maritime and armed capabilities.
The President’s remark was in relation to the recent incident in Recto Bank that involved a Chinese vessel which allegedly hit and caused a Filipino fishing boat to sink, endangering the lives of 22 Filipino fishermen.
“Iyang nangyari diyan sa banggaan, that is a maritime incident. Huwag kayong maniwala diyan sa mga politiko na bobo na. Gusto papunta ‘yung — papuntahin ‘yung Navy. You do not send grey ships there. Banggaan lang ng barko ‘yan.,” President Duterte stressed.
(The collision that happened, that is a maritime incident. Do not be swayed by politicians who insist on sending Navy personnel there. You do not send grey ships there. That was mere collision of sea vessels.)
“Do not make it worse because there is a — that’s a fertile ground for…And we are not yet as ready. And we can never be ready in a nuclear war. Stay out if trouble,” he added.
The Philippines in the past has attempted a show of force against China in the disputed waters in West Philippine Sea.
In 2012, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar was mobilized to man the Philippine territory in WPS when a Philippine Navy surveillance plane spotted several Chinese fishing vessels anchored in Panatag Shoal.
Panatag Shoal is about 124 nautical miles from the coast of Zambales and is part of the Philippines’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). (with reports from Rey Pelayo)
China’s National People’s Congress’ third session closed on Thursday (May 28) after parliament members voted on a proposal to implement Hong Kong’s national security legislation.
“The session made a decision to establish a legal system and enforcement mechanism for the national security of Hong Kong’s Special Administrative Region,” chairman of the standing committee of the NPC, Li Zhanshu, told delegates at the closing ceremony.
“It will uphold and improve the ‘one country, two systems’ policy. It is in line with the Constitution and Hong Kong’s Basic Law and is in the interest of all Chinese people including Hong Kong people,” he added.
The legislation received 2,878 votes while one voted against and six abstained. The draft national security law has received international criticism with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declaring that Hong Kong is ‘no longer autonomous.’
Hong Kong, which has freedoms not granted in the mainland such as freedom of assembly and freedom of the press, has experienced months-long anti-government protests which sparked from a now-withdrawn extradition bill. (Reuters)
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday (May 26) that Beijing’s proposed national security laws would not trample on the city’s rights and freedoms and called on its citizens to wait to see the details of the legislation.
Beijing unveiled plans last week for national security legislation for Hong Kong that aims to tackle secession, subversion and terrorist activities. It could see Chinese intelligence agencies set up bases in the city.
Thousands poured onto the street of Hong Kong on Sunday (May 24) in a mass protest against the planned new security laws.
Police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd and arrested almost 200 people.
More protests are expected in Hong Kong on Wednesday (May 27). (Reuters)
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