TANMEN: In the disputed waters of the South China Sea, fishermen are the wild card.
China is using its vast fishing fleet as the advance guard to press its expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea, experts say. That is not only putting Beijing on a collision course with its Asian neighbors but also introducing a degree of unpredictability that raises the risk of periodic crises.
In the past few weeks, tensions have flared with Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam as Chinese fishermen, often backed up by coast guard vessels, have ventured far from their homeland and close to other nations’ coasts. These are just the latest conflicts in China’s long-running battle to expand its fishing grounds and simultaneously exert its maritime dominance. Continue reading
The territorial scramble for various resource rich areas in the East/South China Sea and specifically the Spratly islands has been a major point of contention involving China and most of its regional neighbors, recently expanding to the U.S. which is determined not to let China have the upper hand, for nearly two years now, with occasional episodes of escalation that threaten the regional peace. One such episode took place on Thursday of last week when the Vietnamese coast guard seized a Chinese vessel for intruding into its territorial waters, according to a local report Saturday. Continue reading
But it’s not just about keeping Chinese bellies full. According to an excellent in-depth report from Reuters, Beijing is increasingly equipping fishing boats with geolocation devices, filling them up with subsidized fuel, and dispatching them to the disputed waters of the South China Sea, where they are clashing with rival fishermen from Vietnam and the Philippines. Continue reading