New regulations by the Chinese government will make the country’s civilian ships military-ready in the name of national defense.
Early this June, Chinese military officials met with representatives for civilian shipping companies in Shanghai. On the agenda? “Technical Standards for New Civilian Ships to Implement National Defense Requirements,” which basically outlines performance and design stipulations for new civilian ships so that they can be used to bolster military strength for national defense purposes.
The “Technical Standards for New Civilian Ships to Implement National Defense Requirements” is the output of five years of study by shipping groups and the military, and would enable ships to be called into service during a crisis.
Military use of civilian maritime assets isn’t necessarily new; Britain’s Queen Elizabeth 2, for example, had been used in the 1982 Falklands War. It has also been reported that China already has an existing ‘maritime militia’ via civilian vessels that are instrumental in pushing the country’s claims in the East and South China seas. These vessels – mostly fishing vessels – are said to do a miscellany of tasks including surveillance, search and rescue, and providing supplies to the military and coast guard.
This developing news, while not overtly threatening, is a projection of the country’s military might and is concerning to neighboring nations in light of increasing assertiveness and consequent tension in territorial claims on the disputed islands of the Asian region.
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“China approves plan for civilian ships to be used by military.” Reuters, 17 Jun 2015. Web. 26 Jun 2015. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/06/18/us-china-defence-shipping-idUSKBN0OY08N20150618
Erickson, Andrew S. and Conor M. Kennedy. “Meet the Chinese Maritime Militia Waging a ‘People’s War at Sea’.” The Wall Street Journal, 31 Mar 2015. Web. 26 Jun 2015. http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2015/03/31/meet-the-chinese-maritime-militia-waging-a-peoples-war-at-sea/
Lakshmi, Aiswarya. “China to Retrofit 172,000 Civilian Ships for Military Use.” MarineLink.com, 23 Jun 2015. Web. 26 Jun 2015. http://www.marinelink.com/news/retrofit-civilian-china393397.aspx
Tiezzi, Shannon. “China Wants Its Civilian Ships to Be Ready for War.” The Diplomat, 12Jun 2015. Web. 26 Jun 2015. http://thediplomat.com/2015/06/china-wants-its-civilian-ships-to-be-ready-for-war/