China Stepping Up Enforcement to Meet Increasing Maritime Claims
China’s Marine Surveillance says they will add 1,000 officers this year, raising staff to a total of 10,000. The hiring spike comes after increased maritime claims and rising territory and maritime border disputes involving China and neighboring countries.
In addition to the increased staff the agency plans to purchase 36 new ships over the next five years. At present the agency has 300 vessels and 10 aircraft.
In recent months China has had disputes over the Spratly Islands that are claimed by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. China also has had disputes with Taiwan and Vietnam over the Paracels, a smaller island group that the three nations claim as their territory.
Last year China and Japan were involved in a heated dispute after a Chinese fishing boat rammed a Japanese patrol boat after the patrol boat order the fishing vessel to vacate the area. Japan claimed the fishing vessel was fishing in Japanese waters near the disputed islands known in Japan as Senkaku. China, who calls the islands Diaoyu, said Japan had no right to patrol the islands.
The Islands are near key shipping lanes and are homes to important commercial fishing areas. More significant though is the belief that these islands side along side large oil deposits. Experts believe China’s recent disputes are directly linked to there growing need for new source of energy.
Last July, the U.S. Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, suggested that the China and the other claimants to the disputed islands pursue their claims with the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea. This suggestion sparked some controversy as the clauses found in the UN’s Law of the Sea are not favorable for China and they might end up losing claim to some major islands.