The United States has finally put its foot down, facing the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) use of open deception to seize control of the South China Sea. The head of the U.S. Navy has allegedly told the CCP that hostile actions from its coast guard and fishing boats will be seen as no different than hostile actions of the Chinese navy.
Admiral John Richardson, head of the U.S. Navy, allegedly alerted his Chinese counterpart, vice-admiral Shen Jinlong, of the new standard in January.
“I made it very clear that the US navy will not be coerced and will continue to conduct routine and lawful operations around the world, in order to protect the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of sea and airspace guaranteed to all,” Adm. Richardson told the Financial Times.
To make a long story short, the CCP uses its fishing boats and coast guard ships as key pieces in its military strategy, designed to seize control of the South China Sea and nearby regions. The fishing ships even train alongside the Chinese navy.
Rather than just send in military ships, it started by sending in large numbers of fishing ships to contest the territory, then Coast Guard ships to “protect” them, then military warships, then it builds artificial islands to base the warships. These islands then become Chinese territory, used to expand the CCP’s borders and to declare ownership of the strategically important region.
The CCP has been open about this strategy, which CCP officials call the “cabbage strategy” designed to wrap areas up layer by layer until the CCP can seize control of it. The militarized fishing boats and coast guard ships are known as the CCP’s “maritime militia.”
Despite the fact that the strategy is openly discussed—and well understood in the West—the CCP has been able to carry it out due to loopholes in rules of engagement. By simply labeling ships used in military operations as fishing boats, or by painting warships as coast guard ships, the CCP has been able to manipulate international standards on engagement, and has prevented a harsher response from surrounding countries as it carries out its land-grab.
The fishing ships, meanwhile, have been extremely aggressive with foreign vessels, including Japanese and Philippine ships. This aggression allows them to chase out foreign presence so the CCP can operate uninhibited, as it gains control over the strategically important region.
The Japanese coast guard released a video in August 2016, showing 200 to 300 Chinese government and fishing boats, accompanied by Chinese coast guard ships, intruding on Japanese territory near the Senkaku islands. The CCP claims the islands are its historical territory.