Looking at the China Coast Guard, What Has Xi Wrought?

Photo: William Colclough / U.S. Coast Guard

The photo above, which looks so much like a National Security Cutter, headed a Marine Link report “China Authorizes Coast Guard to Fire on Foreign Vessels if Needed.” It prompted me to look again at the Wikipedia entry for “Equipment of the China Coast Guard.”

According to Wikipedia, the China Coast Guard has very few aircraft, “a handful of Harbin Z-9 helicopters (their version of the Eurocopter AS365 which is very similar to the H-65–Chuck), and a maritime patrol aircraft based on the Harbin Y-12 transport.”

Their total number of personnel is only about a third that of the USCG.

But when you look at their fleet of large cutters, it is a very different story.

This Chinese coast guard ship is equipped with weapons believed to be 76-millimeter guns. © Kyodo

The China Coast Guard (CCG) has about three times the number of large cutters (1,000 tons or larger) as the USCG. They have well over 100, including at least 60 larger than the 270s. This, in spite of the fact that their EEZ, even including their “Nine Dash Lines” claims disputed by Taiwan and other nations is less than a fifth that of the US. Their internationally recognized EEZ is less than 8% of that of the US.

Virtually all these cutters were acquired in the last 15 years. While most CCG cutters are lightly armed, that is changing rapidly, with 76mm guns and 30mm Gatling guns becoming increasingly common. Many of the new cutters are built on the same hulls as PLAN frigates and corvettes.

“As of July 1, 2018, the China Coast Guard was transferred from civilian control of the State Council and the State Oceanic Administration, to the People’s Armed Police, ultimately placing it under the command of the Central Military Commission”

The CCG does not do buoy tending or icebreaking. Primary responsibility for SAR and maritime regulatory activities are invested in other agencies. There is a 25,000 member China Maritime Safety Administration, which has a few large cutters of its own, and a 10,000 member China Rescue and Salvage Bureau with its own cutters.

I think it is fair to say the China Coast Guard is much more focused on its para-military role than the US Coast Guard. Should China attempt to invade Taiwan, I feel sure the China Coast Guard will be transporting troops and providing naval gunfire support. They might even undertake small scale surprise landings own their own, perhaps in multiple locations simultaneously.

6 thoughts on “Looking at the China Coast Guard, What Has Xi Wrought?

  1. “The CCG does not do buoy tending or icebreaking. Primary responsibility for SAR and maritime regulatory activities are invested in other agencies.”

    You mean like a real Coast Guard? This is where the U. S. Revenue Cutter Service began – although virtually unarmed.

  2. We need to find relevant designs and capabilities that can be built by the yacht and offshore builders before they are gone. If its not too late already. There is still a huge need for a cutter X along with designing the potential for military conversion from the onset.

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