The Sino-Russian naval exercises dubbed as the ?Joint Sea 2016? concluded without any incident but the risk of a WW3 is far from over. With each passing day, the military deployments in the region add to every growing threat of a devastating war. Japan?s plans to start joint patrols with the U.S. and Taiwan?s buildup of anti-aircraft guns in the South China Sea indicate more trouble ahead.
While the military deployments to the tense South China region are reported everyday, the media has failed to address another threat. Apparently, the Chinese are covertly training their fishing coast guard and fishing fleet to face military threats from rivals. So apart from the Chinese Navy, Beijing is building paramilitary forces out of its civilian fleet vessels.
Fishing Fleet Militia in SCS
China currently operates the biggest fishing fleet in the world and in the highly contested South China Sea region, these fishing ships act as their second navy, reports Business Insider. Beijing uses the fishing militia to harass and block other nation’s vessels from accessing the vital trade routes and fishing grounds.
Andrew Erickson, a professor of strategy with the U.S. Naval War College, suggested that it was high time that the U.S. started treating these fishing boats as the aggressive militias they are. He cited Chinese reports that make it abundantly clear that the fishing vessels have a “militia” function. However, China doesn?t publicize its militia in any English language publication.
“There is plenty of evidence of the front-line elite Chinese maritime militia units answering specifically to a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) chain of command, being entrusted with the fulfilling of specific state-sponsored missions with respect to participation in international sea encounters and incidents,” said Erickson.
Chinese Coast Guard
In addition, the Center for Strategic and International Studies recently released a report on China’s use of its coast guard as a sort of “second navy.? China possesses the world?s largest coast guard fleet. The China Coast Guard (CCG) has some 205 vessels, including 95 vessels that displace over 1,000 tons.
Former Chinese naval vessels also serve as part of the CCG fleet. The CCG too is more capable of intimidating and harassing the ships of other states. This gives China strategic advantage over other nations including the United States.
U.S. Likely Taking Action Soon
Erickson said that no one in the U.S. military has not said a word about this. China has a dangerous advantage with their CCG and fishing milita. He said the U.S. should take action against the Chinese now and expose their use of militia to harass other nations.?He indicated that the U.S. needs to take swift action against the militia as several incidents happened where nations were bullied by Chinese fishing vessels. This would deter Beijing from pushing its power in the South China Sea region.
However, the U.S. is reluctant to react against any civilian fishing vessels. Should the U.S. plan to do so, the risk of WW3 increases as Beijing won?t take U.S. meddling in their affairs lightly. The Chinese will but continue to bully the smaller nations. The World War 3 is just waiting to happen whether the U.S. takes action or not.