By Jose Katigbak, STAR Washington bureau (The Philippine Star) @ http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2012/07/21/829913/chinese-exec-wants-arm-fishermen
WASHINGTON – A leading Chinese fishery official has urged Beijing to provide arms and military training for 100,000 fishermen and let them roam the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea to defeat the Philippines, Vietnam and other countries in the region challenging China’s sweeping claims of sovereignty in those waters.
Washington Times columnist Miles Yu identified the official as He Jianbin, chief of the state-run Baosha Fishing Corp., who reportedly made the appeal in a June 28 commentary in the Communist Party newspaper Global Times.
Yu quoted the official based in Hainan province as saying, “If we put 5,000 Chinese fishing ships in the South China Sea, there will be 100,000 fishermen.”
“And if we make all of them militiamen, give them weapons, we will have a military force stronger than all the combined forces of all the countries in the South China Sea.”
He said China would have no problem deploying that many fishing vessels as Hainan alone had 23,000 fishing ships.
“Every year between May and August when fishing activities are in recess, we should train these fishermen/militiamen to gain skills in fishing, production and military operations, making them a reserve force on the sea and using them to solve our South (China) Sea problems,” the official continued.
By making fishermen a maritime militia force, he argued, “We can make the PLA Navy our rear echelon for now, not the forward echelon in the South China Sea.”
“This will alleviate our nation’s burden, because if we put the PLA Navy at the front line now, we fall right into the trap set up by the US government.”
Bill Gertz, another Washington Times columnist, said China was set to formally deploy its first aircraft carrier on Aug. 1 to coincide with the anniversary of the founding of the communist-ruled People’s Liberation Army.
He quoted US officials as saying the carrier, a refurbished Soviet carrier previously known as the Varyag, was currently undergoing sea trials in the Bohai Sea, over the northern coast of China.
“Its deployment comes amid growing tensions in the South China Sea between China and Vietnam and China and the Philippines over disputed islets in the resource-rich waters,” Gertz said.