China’s Front-Line Fishermen

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