China’s new law giving the China Coast Guard more freedom to use force has increased the concerns of China’s neighbours. The Philippines filed a formal rejection of it on 27 January, emphasising that, given the large area involved and China’s ongoing disputes in the South China Sea, the law is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies it.
On 8 February, a week after the law came into effect, China’s largest maritime patrol vessel, Haixun 06 (海巡06), was launched from Wuhan shipyard. It will be used for ‘regulating Taiwan Straits’ waters, preventing pollution, dealing with maritime incidents, cross-strait exchanges and maintaining national maritime sovereignty’, according to the Fujian Maritime Safety Administration. As the administration sits within the Ministry of Transport rather than the CCG, such developments indicate that the new law is a threat not only because it allows the CCG to use force, but also because it expresses China’s determination to pursue ‘near-seas defence with far-seas protection’ (近海防禦、遠海防衛) by mobilising national resources in support of the CCG to achieve full control of China’s ‘near sea’ regions.