At the weekend, a China Coast Guard (CCG) ship allegedly rammed a Chinese fishing boat to pry it loose from an Indonesian patrol boat that had seized it for illegal fishing near the Natunas in what Jakarta said was its waters.
The incident has shone a spotlight on the CCG, which has been expanding its fleet and building larger vessels in recent years to help enforce China’s territorial claims.
It is estimated that the CCG has more than 200 maritime enforcement vessels, including a pair of recently built 10,000-tonne “monster” ships that are the biggest coast guard vessels in the world.
The first one was completed in 2014 and deployed last year to the East China Sea, while the second, which reportedly boasts a 76mm quick-firing main gun and has a top speed of 25 knots, was completed in January and is set to be deployed to the South China Sea.
The formation of the CCG came soon after China’s new leadership pledged in 2012 to build the country into a maritime power.
In March 2013, China announced that four of its five maritime law enforcement agencies – those overseeing maritime surveillance, fisheries administration, customs enforcement and border control – would be restructured into the CCG.
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