Saturday, May 18, 2024

China’s coast guard joins Navy and Air Force for combined drills

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The Chinese Coast Guard combined forces with the People’s Liberation Army Navy and the Air Force near the Taiwan Strait in a rare show of force.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command, in a strategic move, recently conducted a series of joint combat exercises with the China Coast Guard (CCG) across multiple maritime regions amidst rising tensions in the Taiwan Straits.

“Tasked with law enforcement missions, the CCG plays a special role in safeguarding territorial sovereignty and maritime rights, as well as the lives and properties of fishermen from both sides of the Taiwan Straits, and the latest joint exercise showed that in emergencies, the CCG will be backed by the PLA,” a Beijing-based military expert who requested anonymity told Chinese state media outlet Global Times on Monday.

The CCG is a maritime security force that comes under the jurisdiction of law enforcement rather than the Chinese military.

In the past few days, the PLA carried out two exercises, one near the Taiwan Strait and another in the South China Sea, to showcase the capability to carry out amphibious landings.

Chinese state media have previously emphasized the PLA’s growing focus on the use of amphibious landings as a direct signal to Taiwan that the approach would be used to attack the island nation during an invasion from the mainland.

China’s Communist Party leaders claim Taiwan as part of Chinese territory, although the current government in Beijing has never governed there.

The exercise came as tensions in the Taiwan Strait have escalated over incidents involving fishing vessels from China that capsized near Taiwan-controlled waters.

On February 14, Taiwan’s Coast Guard responded to a Chinese speedboat that trespassed within 1.1 nautical miles off the eastern coast of Kinmen Island, leading to a chase in which the Chinese boat capsized, killing two of the four men onboard.

In a separate incident, a Chinese fishing vessel capsized near the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen Islands on March 14, and the authorities on both sides sent rescue boats to the six missing people on board.

Taiwan’s Coast Guard Administration on March 16 expelled four Chinese Coast Guard vessels that had entered Taiwan-controlled waters near Kinmen Island, Taiwan’s state-run Central News Agency reported.

As reported by the Global Times on Monday, this collaboration between the CCG and the PLA underscores China’s growing use of the Coast Guard for coercive activities against regional neighbors.

“Type 056A corvettes, the PLANS (People’s Liberation Army Navy Ship) Ezhou, and the PLANS Yiwu, the CCG Ship 11506 and an air force fighter jet were parts of the exercise,” Global Times reported, citing the PLA Navy’s statement.

In the exercise, naval vessels simulated air defense using main guns and close-in weapons systems against incoming missiles before the PLANS Ezhou intercepted hostile aircraft. The PLANS Yiwu was then tasked with clearing sea mines, Global Times reported.

A Chinese Coast Guard ship fires a water cannon at Unaizah on May 4, a Philippine Navy chartered vessel, conducting a routine resupply mission to troops stationed at Second Thomas Shoal on March 05, 2024,…

Ezra Acayan/Getty Images News/iStock

Concurrently, the PLA carried out a show of force exercise in the South China Sea through live-fire exercises involving a group of landing ships.

“The PLANS Danxiashan, the PLANS Daiyunshan and the PLANS Wanyangshan recently formed a task force and conducted multi-course realistic combat exercises in an undisclosed area in the South China Sea,” Global Times reported on Sunday, citing state broadcaster China Central Television.

These ships, capable of carrying tanks for amphibious landing missions, are a signal to the regional tensions in the Taiwan Strait and vis-a-vis the Philippines in the South China Sea dispute, Global Times said.

Chinese state media have directly pointed out tension with the Philippines in justifying the latest set of military maneuvers in the South China Sea.

“The recent exercises came at a time when the Philippines had made repeated provocations over Chinese islands and reefs in the South China Sea, including Ren’ai Jiao (also known as Ren’ai Reef) and Huangyan Dao (also known as Huangyan Island) under the instigation of the U.S.,” Global Times said.

Chinese Navy Conducting Exercise in SCS
A screenshot from the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) exercise in the South China Sea was seen on China’s state broadcaster, China Central Television, on March 18, 2024. China’s Coast Guard carried out joint drills along…

China Central Television

The drills in the South China Sea encompassed various training courses, including live-fire shooting at sea mine targets and side-by-side mooring.

China’s military exercises in the region continue unabated.

On Monday, the China Maritime Safety Administration posted a new navigations warning on behalf of the Huludao Maritime Safety Administration, restricting entry into parts of the northern Bohai Sea during another set of military exercises.