In the beginning, it’ll start off with ‘fishing vessels’ that will need the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) or the Chinese coast guard equivalent to redirect these vessels or confiscate them. This will in turn escalate a situation when it takes place since the ‘intruding’ vessels will call in for military backup or come with military backing in future excursions. From then on, one can surely guess this will end up in incidents where maybe a fishing boat gets shot at or is sunk, leading to skirmishes or even a war. China is actually looking for a conflict to give them a reason to assert their power and expand their military reach. Their doctrine has been changed and crafted in such a way that they have to follow through with what’s in the playbook. Nevertheless, look for the United States to continue on the defensive a leave their Asian partners in the cold in these situations.
China’s recent announcement that foreign fishing vessels traveling in disputed areas of the South China sea need to seek permission from China first has been dismissed as “provocative and potentially dangerous” by the US, “threatening the existing international order” by Japan and dangerous to “peace and stability” by the Philippines.
The marine zone which China says it controls ”appears to enclose an area covering roughly 80%” of the South China Sea, a US Congressional report notes (pdf). The controversial claim, which China claims dates back to the 1940s, is receiving heightened attention due to China’s latest push. It does not respect international agreements on water rights and and violates the claims of its neighbors under UN Convention on the Law of the Sea guidelines. The BBC mapped the overlapping claims to the region: