China said mulling law to justify security patrols

Kyodo

To secure its maritime interests, China has improved coordination between its military and its government bodies that enforce laws, the Defense Ministry’s think tank said in a report Wednesday.

The report by the National Institute for Defense Studies noted “a clear pattern of collaboration” between the People’s Liberation Army and Chinese government departments in the field of maritime security, referring to joint drills and exercises between the PLA and maritime law enforcement agencies.

The institute’s 2012 China Security Report said the Chinese military is likely to be deployed to missions on the sea to protect China’s rights in support of the maritime law-enforcement agencies if neighboring countries send military forces to disputed areas.

“Thus, the neighboring countries will need to respond with an assumption that the PLA and/or PLAN (People’s Liberation Army Navy) may be brought in,” the report warned.

China has been engaged in territorial disputes with countries including Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

The NIDS also said the PLA has requested the enactment of an “ocean basic law” to safeguard China’s territorial sovereignty as well as security and economic interests.

“The PLA and other maritime-related departments have now taken proactive measures toward drafting an integrated maritime strategy and legislation, which provides momentum to the eventual enactment” of the basic law, according to the report.

The think tank warned that as a result of strengthened interagency coordination, China could take “more assertive measures” to protect its maritime rights and interests in disputed waters.

The NIDS urged Beijing to “be more accountable for the future direction of its maritime strategy based on international rules,” saying its maritime strategic trends are “a matter of international concern.”

Masayuki Masuda, senior fellow at the NIDS Research Department, said at a news conference he believes Beijing will not mobilize the military to the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands unless tensions between the two countries further escalate.