This is also exactly why China and a few other nations wanted to ‘combat piracy’ in the open seas. They used this as a cover to patrol areas they really had no need to, show their presence and the ability project power. At the same time, they got a win-win because they received good public reactions as they successfully portrayed themselves as fighting terrorism.
Chinese merchant vessels could be used as cover to allow PLA ballistic missile submarines to penetrate the “First Island Chain,” extending from Alaska to the Philippines, during peace time, according to Chinese Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo, cited by state-run People’s Daily.
Vincent R. Stewart, the director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) said that Chinese nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines will begin routine patrol missions in open sea this year, during a hearing held by the House Committee on Armed Services held on Feb. 3.
During peace time, a Chinese merchant fleet could be used as cover for Chinese submarines to move into open water through the island chain, according to Yin. As for the second method, Yin suggested that Chinese submarines could also penetrate the First Island Chain with cover provided by PLA surface combat vessels. However, he said that the second method can be used only during wartime.
Full article: Merchant ships could be used as cover to move PLA subs into open sea (Want China Times)