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Maritime Militia in the South China Sea

China trains ‘fishing militia’ to sail into disputed waters

Chinese fishing fleets based in Tanmen, Hainan island will get military training and support, according to Reuters.

“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,” said a Hainan government advisor who focuses on the South China Sea. The training encompasses search and rescue operations, contending with disasters at sea, and “safeguarding Chinese sovereignty”

Basic military training will be provided by the city-level branches of the People’s Armed Forces Department, which are overseen by both the military and local Communist Party authorities in charge of militia operations nationwide. The training will take place between May and August, and the fishermen will be paid for participating.

Government subsidies encourage fishermen to use heavier vessels with steel – as opposed to wooden – hulls.

According to industry executives, Chinese government has also provided Global Positioning Satellite equipment for at least 50,000 vessels, enabling them to contact the Chinese Coast Guard in maritime emergencies. Several Hainan fishermen and diplomats told Reuters that some vessels are equipped with small arms.

When “a particular mission in safeguarding sovereignty”, comes up government authorities will coordinate with the fishing militia, the advisor said, asking them to gather information on the activities of foreign vessels at sea.

Read the Reuters report with photos at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southchinasea-china-fishingboats-idUSKCN0XS0RS


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