While the Coast Guard will perhaps soon be commissioning four 353 ton Webber Class Fast Response Cutters a year, and has been averaging one large cutter every two years, it looks like the Chinese Maritime Surveillance Administration (CMS) will have commissioned 36 new cutters from 2010 to 2012 including seven 1500 ton class, fifteen 1000 ton class and fourteen 600 ton class “to better protect China’s maritime interests.” This is a huge, rapid expansion of their assets. (Also the tonnage ratings the Chinese provide tend to be light displacement, so they understate their size.)
This is only one of several Chinese agencies that do Coast Guard type task. Other agencies are also building ships. These agencies use relatively few air assets, and these ships are less sophisticated. But as Stalin was reported to say, quantity has a quality all its own.
To put this in perspective, China’s recognized EEZ is 877,019 km2 . They claim approximately 3,000,000 km2 additional, disputed by other nations, or about 3,877,019 km2 in total. The US EEZ is 11,351,000 km2 so even considering all their claimed EEZ, it is only a slightly more than a third the size of our own.