04 September 2016
China continues to up the ante in the South China Sea (SCS), by moving more military and paramilitary forces into the area. The apparent objective is to turn the SCS into a Chinese-controlled waterway and strategic chokepoint.
It has become increasingly evident that China intends to make the South China Sea (SCS) a Chinese lake, subject to its “indisputable sovereignty”. However, the issue of Chinese hegemony in the SCS is less and less about economics – oil and gas reserves, or fishing rights – and increasingly about the militarisation of this body of water. The South China Sea is becoming a key defensive zone for China.
This can be seen in a number of recent activities. The first of these is the ratcheting up of activities by China’s “militarised fisherman,” the so-called “little blue men” who go out in the SCS and clash with ships from other nations, both commercial and naval. These are not simply private fishermen engaged in “patriotic activities”. On the contrary, according to researchers at the US Naval War College (NWC), these vessels are in fact a maritime militia subsidised by Beijing and effectively a part-time military organisation.
… Richard A. Bitzinger is a Senior Fellow and Coordinator of the Military Transformations Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 05/09/2016