“FORCE MAJEURE: CHINA’S COAST GUARD LAW IN CONTEXT” –Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

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

The Asia Transparency Initiative looks at China’s recent changes to their laws regarding use of deadly force by their Coast Guard, comparing it to the US and other regional coast guards.

Really the issue is not the authorities themselves, but rather China’s views of what is theirs and what is illegal, which deviate sharply from those of the international community.

 “Articles 20 and 21 are worrying not because they authorize unique powers for the CCG, but because they suggest a readiness to make use of those powers across all waters China claims within its jurisdiction. China makes a vast but purposely ambiguous claim to jurisdiction over almost the entire South and East China Seas. Based on those claims, Article 20 could easily be interpreted as authorizing the CCG to dismantle not only foreign outposts on the Spratlys, but even floating platforms and artificial islands in the reefs and open waters of its neighbors’ EEZs. And Article 21 could likewise authorize the CCG to expel Southeast Asian law enforcement, military, and other government vessels from their own EEZs. These authorities could be used to justify the use of force in the increasingly frequent standoffs between Chinese and Southeast Asian government vessels over oil and gas, fishing, and survey activity across the South China Sea.”

The analysis also suggests that use of force restrictions on the Philippine Coast Guard are unusually tight.

Thanks to Paul for bringing this to my attention.

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