Hornbill Unleashed

April 25, 2017

Report: China maintains ‘near-constant’ patrols near Sarawak shoals

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:02 AM

Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessels are maintaining near-constant patrols in waters that are claimed by Malaysia, according to a report.

The report – which tracked ship movements near Luconia Shoals from Dec 30 last year to Feb 26 this year – said at least three CCG vessels and one Royal Malaysian Navy vessel had patrolled the area over the period.

It said the CCG ship Zhongguo Haijing 3306 was on patrol until at least Jan 6. From Jan 12 until around Feb 3, it was replaced by the Zhongguo Haijing 3501. The Zhongguo Haijing 3402 patrolled the area from Feb 15 onwards.

“During that time, only one Malaysian government vessel, the Royal Malaysian Navy’s KD Selangor, patrolled the shoals from Jan 22 to Jan 29.

“During that time, it operated as close as 4 nautical miles (7.4 kilometres) from the Zhongguo Haijing 3501, indicating that its purpose was likely to monitor the CCG presence,” said the report published on April 5.

The report was a collaboration between the Centre for Strategic and International Studies’ (CSIS) Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, and the Centre for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS). Both are US-based think tanks.

The ship movements were reportedly tracked using the ships’ transponder signals.

The report said the CCG ship movements are not unusual, and are consistent with a regular rotation of CCG ships near Luconia Shoals that CSIS and C4ADS had traced to January 2016.

The shoals are some 156 kilometres off the coast of Sarawak, and Malaysia claims it to be part of its exclusive economic zone. It comprises two groups of reefs known as North Luconia Shoals (Gugusan Beting Raja Jarun) and South Luconia Shoals (Gugusan Beting Patinggi Ali).

China – about 1,600 kilometres away – asserts that the area is part of its contentious ‘nine-dash line’ claims, which encompasses most of the South China Sea, and supposedly encroaches the exclusive economic zones of several countries.

The shoals are also claimed by Taiwan.

In 2015, Malaysia lodged diplomatic protests against China after a CCG vessel was moored off Luconia Shoals – reportedly for two years.

There were also reported encroachments by Chinese fishing vessels.

According to the CSIS-C4ADS report, the CCG ship at the heart of the 2015 diplomatic storm, supposedly did not leave until November that year, which is just before Malaysia hosted the Asean and East Asia summits.

If this is true, the report said, then it appears that CCG vessels had returned almost immediately after its departure.

“Since that time, at least 11 CCG vessels have patrolled the shoals,” the report said.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong-based daily South China Morning Post (SCMP) today quoted analysts saying that the CCG presence is China’s way of asserting its sovereignty over the shoals, despite Malaysia’s protests.

“Not only has China’s coastguard adopted tactics that might be considered a deviation from established standard operating procedures of safety and good seamanship, such as ramming and using water cannon against civilian vessels, they are now deploying larger cutters with bigger guns.

“China has banked on its ability to intimidate and coerce claimant vessels from disputed maritime territory with its coastguard in the South China Sea,” Rand Corporation policy analyst Lyle Morris reportedly said.

Singapore’s ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute senior fellow Ian Storey meanwhile, reportedly told the daily that the CCG vessels’ presence were “Beijing’s way of reminding Malaysia that it is determined to exercise jurisdictional control within the nine-dash line”.

Despite this, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore research analayst David Han reportedly told the SCMP that Malaysia is unlikely to be very confrontational to Beijing, due to its economic dependence on China amid a sluggish economy.

Instead, Malaysia is more likely to resort to diplomatic protests behind-the-scenes.

Source : @ Malaysiakini


1 Comment »

  1. The RMN should sink the intruders in our sea unless close one eye because of ECT 56bill to close the mouth

    Comment by Salim — May 2, 2017 @ 1:17 PM | Reply

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