Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Five Dragons Stirring Up the Sea: Challenge and Opportunity in China’s Improving Maritime Enforcement Capabilities


In an age of delicate maneuvering among the great powers, coast guards have taken new and leading roles on the world stage. When Washington wanted to demonstrate conviction and bring supplies to beleaguered Georgia without escalating already simmering tensions around the Black Sea, the USCGC Dallas, a large U.S. Coast Guard cutter, was quickly dispatched. The trend has long been visible in Asia. Tokyo's most extensive use of deadly force in the postwar era was an action by the Japanese coast guard against a North Korean surveillance vessel.

More recently, a Japan Coast Guard cutter sank a Taiwanese fishing vessel in a collision near the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea, prompting a relatively serious diplomatic incident. These most powerful coast guards are spawning imitators. India, for example, announced a bold new purchase of long-range patrol aircraft for its coast guard in the fall of 2008. South Kore's improving coast guard, meanwhile, has invited foreign reporters to a tour in the vicinity of islands that are administered by South Korea but claimed by Japan, accompanying the visit with belligerent rhetoric.




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