China Expands Maritime Presence with Advanced Coast Guard Ships

China's Growing Naval Operations Raise Concerns in Taiwan, Japan, and Philippines

China’s Coast Guard is bolstering its footprint in the East and South China Seas, as well as near Taiwan, by deploying larger and more sophisticated vessels, effectively extending the reach of the Chinese navy.

This escalation underscores President Xi Jinping’s emphasis on Beijing’s maritime ambitions, sparking concerns among Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines about the potential for accidental clashes in these contested waters.

In a recent incident near Taiwan’s Kinmen Islands, a China Coast Guard ship radioed a nearby Taiwanese vessel, demanding information about its activities in the area. Video footage released by the China Coast Guard depicted four of its vessels patrolling the region.

The vessel involved in the radio communication, identified as ship 2202, reportedly boasts advanced capabilities, including a full-load displacement of at least 2,000 tonnes and equipped with machine guns. This ship has been active in waters near the Senkaku Islands, known as Diaoyu in China, according to a report by a leading naval expert.

By intensifying patrols near Taiwan, this vessel could significantly tip the balance in favor of China, according to a senior figure at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

Tensions escalated following a recent incident where a Chinese fishing boat capsized near the Kinmen Islands, leading to casualties. China’s response to this incident included condemning Taiwan’s restrictions and increasing coast guard patrols in the area.

Similar maritime activities have been observed near the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, where China has been warning Japanese Self-Defense Forces aircraft to vacate the airspace. President Xi’s visit to the China Coast Guard’s East China Sea command office in November likely prompted these intensified actions.

China’s maritime assertiveness extends to the South China Sea, particularly around the Second Thomas Shoal, where clashes between Chinese and Philippine vessels have occurred. China has erected barriers near the Scarborough Shoal to impede Philippine vessels.

The China Coast Guard’s rapid expansion includes a significant increase in vessels with advanced capabilities, including helicopter platforms, high-capacity water cannons, and advanced weaponry. The agency, which came under the command of the People’s Armed Police Force in 2018, has been designated as a quasi-military organization, allowing it to use force against foreign vessels perceived as violating Chinese sovereignty.

As China continues to enhance its maritime capabilities, neighboring countries remain vigilant, wary of potential implications for regional stability.


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