The Chinese are set to consolidate their control over the South China Sea with their final and most controversial round of island building right up against the Philippines.
The fishermen of Hainan Island are the forward guards in China’s battle to take all of the South China Sea.
Operating as a guerrilla force and under civilian cover, they occupy and help build disputed islands.
Most of the fishermen refused to speak to the ABC but one captain did, as long we concealed his identity.
He had just returned from two months in the disputed Spratly islands.
“We won’t go there if the Government doesn’t pay us subsidies of about $20,000 each time, and we only get it if we commit to going four times a year. We don’t make money from the fishing,” he said.
The captain said it was a risky way to earn a living.
“In 1998 at Scarborough I was detained by the Philippines along with 60 people from four boats,” he said.