Coastguard vessels in South China Sea need code of conduct amid increasing risk of clashes in contested waters, say analysts

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Nations’ rival territorial claims in region hindering efforts to increase cooperation, say observers

Red tape and conflicting sovereignty interests are hindering efforts to set up a coastguard code of conduct in the South China Sea, despite the rising risk of ­confrontation, observers said.
They said part of the problem was that coastguards often fell under various government agencies, especially in China where the authorities are still centralising maritime law enforcement, making it difficult for Beijing to commit to a code.
Tensions in the disputed waters have risen over China’s competing territorial claims with Southeast Asian neighbours and close encounters between Chinese and US military vessels. But Asia-Pacific naval chiefs ­approved a code of conduct two years ago to defuse unexpected encounters between navy vessels and aircraft.
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New concerns have surfaced as coastguards have stepped up patrols of the sea, but the clashes have yet to escalate to the level of a military confrontation.
Tang Siew Mun, head of the Asian Studies Centre at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, said the absence of a code for coastguards was troubling.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/1942543/south-china-sea-coastguard-code-still-stuck-choppy

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