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Beijing Finalizes New Use-of-Force Rules for China Coast Guard

china coast guard
File image courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

Published Jan 25, 2021 12:35 AM by The Maritime Executive

The Chinese Communist Party has finalized new rules of engagement for the China Coast Guard, the maritime division of China's military police force.  

The law will allow the CCG to “take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea."

Draft text suggests that the new rules would authorize Chinese maritime law enforcement personnel to use small arms if required by the circumstances of a perceived infraction, based on the "nature, degree and urgency" of the case and their own "reasonable judgement." It recommends directing fire at targets above the waterline "as much as possible." In the event of more serious non-compliance, the use of deck guns would be permitted. 

The rules also explicitly allow the agency to halt construction or destroy structures on Chinese-claimed land features. It also gives the CCG broad discretion to set up temporary exclusion zones and to board and inspect foreign vessels within Chinese-claimed waters. As China claims the overwhelming majority of the South China Sea as its own, these measures potentially apply to a significant fraction of the world's maritime traffic. 

Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China's foreign ministry, described the new rules as consistent with "international conventions and practices of various ntions."

“We will continue to work with relevant countries to properly resolve contradictions and differences through dialogue and consultation to ensure regional peace and stability,” Chunying told reporters at a press conference Friday.