South China Sea tensions could reach new high as the arbitration ruling comes closer. China made it clear before that it will not honor the decision and despite opposition, the country continues its efforts into the disputed region with new reports claiming of a “weaponized” fishing militia. Is it time for war?
It’s a battle of what each country believes in the South China Sea. China maintains that it owns part of the disputed region historically while other countries argue that they retain rights over the regions especially in terms of geographical considerations. While the international arbitration is on its way, it does not seem like the tensions will let up in the region – not with China rejecting the intervention as a legit means to solve the dispute.
Now, Beijing is reportedly training its fishing fleet in a tiny port town on Hainan Island. China is giving military training on top of subsidies of fuel and ice. Beijing is supposedly creating a sophisticated fishing militia that will sail to the South China Sea region. Training and support covered sea exercises that rendered the fishermen capable of gathering information from foreign vessels.
“The maritime militia is expanding because of the country’s need for it, and because of the desire of the fishermen to engage in national service, protecting our country’s interests,” Reuters quoted an advisor to the Hainan government who wants to remain unidentified.
The United States and other countries have been launching patrols across the region to which China called out.
It’s gotten a lot more risky to do this with all kinds of foreign boats out there,” explained Huang Jing, a local fisherman in the sleepy port town of Baimajing.
“But China is strong now,” he added. “I trust the government to protect us.”
Nonetheless even with the tug of war on power and war of words between China and the US, the West clarified that it is not provoking anything in the region.
“We are strengthening our military role in the region, both unilaterally and through this wide range of partnerships and alliances we have, but that isn’t in order to provoke anything,” Voice of America quoted U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter during a recent visit to the Philippines.
“It’s to continue to stand with the system of principles and peace and security that has kept, that has allowed this region to prosper for many decades here.”