Chinese fishing vessels in WPS appear as maritime militia

Director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) and a fellow with the Southeast Asia Program at CSIS Gregory B. Poling has noted how China’s “fishing fleet” in West Philippine Sea should be a cause of concern.

“What Beijing has done in the past several years is to establish 24/7 constant presence of naval and Coast Guard vessels, as well as paramilitary militia throughout the South China Sea in a way that was unprecedented just four or five years ago,” Poling said during the Stratbase Albert Del Rosario Institute conference entitled, “Pilipinas Conference 2018” held on December 7 at The Conservatory, The Peninsula Manila in Makati City.

“I mentioned the maritime militia, the paramilitary forces or how we’d like to categorize them. I think we have an impression that this is relatively minor part of the Chinese arsenal, and we are at a mistake,” he added.

Chinese fishing vessels in the harbor at Subi Reef. AMTI photo

“None of these boats are actually fishing, everyone appeared as maritime militia. When we tracked them – we never see them doing anything other than intimidating others,” he explained.

He added that these vessels often leave Zamora Reef and hangout near Pagasa Island to intimidate resupply missions of Philippines in Spratly Islands.