China’s recent actions in asserting its claims to ownership and other forms of jurisdiction over about 80 percent of the South China Sea speak louder than its oft-repeated soothing words
Dispatching an unusually large fishing fleet of 30 boats, escorted by a 3,000-ton patrol vessel, to part of the disputed Spratly Islands, also claimed by the Philippines.
Issuing a warning through China’s Defense Ministry that “combat-ready” Chinese naval and air patrols are ready to “protect our maritime rights and interests” in the South China Sea.
Beijing is taking advantage of what it sees as the weakness of ASEAN, the United States, Japan and other potential sources of opposition to push its control mechanisms southward and ever deeper into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia.
But He Jianbin, chief of the state-run Baosha Fishing Corp., based on Hainan Island, wants to go further. He has urged the Chinese government to turn fishermen into militiamen to serve as a spearhead to advance China’s claims.
“If we put 5,000 Chinese fishing boats in the South China Sea, there will be 100,000 fishermen,” he said in the Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party, on June 28.
“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.”