søndag 5. mai 2019

Beijing’s blurred lines between military and non-military shipping in South China Sea could raise risk of flashpoint

China’s steady build-up of non-military shipping in the South China Sea could increase the risk of conflict and undermine stability in the region, observers have warned. A recent incident in which up to 275 Chinese vessels were spotted near the Philippine-occupied island of Thitu, part of the disputed Spratly chain, angered Manila and highlighted the concerns about potential flashpoints. The vessels, mostly fishing boats, are likely to have taken shelter in facilities China has built on the artificial islands in the South China Sea, according to some analysts.

“The boat swarm has such endurance on station in no small part due to the proximity of the artificial islands in the area, such as Subi, which can provide ready shelter for these boats in times of inclement weather,” said Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S Rajaratnam school of international studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.