|PRC China Marine Surveillance (CMS) vessels|
In the South China Sea at present things are a little touchy as the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) having made a 'Rights' claim complete with its own boundary lines over the entire region of the South China Sea is now preparing to enforce it on a full time basis. An article in the maritime blog gCaptain set NAUTICAL LOG thinking about the situation.
The PRC paramilitary agency being used is the China Marine Surveillance (CMS) which has on duty in the South China Sea several patrol vessels. These are painted white with CHINA MARINE SURVEILLANCE in large blue letters on the hull (see photo above) they are armed but to what extent is unclear. By 2013 to 2016 the CMS will have 350 vessels, 16 aircraft and 15,000 personnel. This means that every vessel transiting the South China Sea both civilian and military will be tracked by CMS.
The PRC in claiming 'Rights' to the South China Sea is actually claiming International Waters and has encroached on all the EEC National Waters of the surrounding countries. Just this month a small convoy of Indian Naval vessels led by INS Shivalik F47 on innocent passage from the Philippines to South Korea was approached by a fully armed PLAN warship which transmitted the message "Welcome to the South China Sea Foxtrot 47". The PLAN warship remained escorting the Indian convoy for 12 hours until released by PLAN CC-HQ.
The larger incident was about a month ago when Government of the Philippines vessels personnel boarded Chinese fishing vessels to "inspect" them off the Scarborough Shoal, known to PRC as Huangyan Island, within their EEC. The PRC responded with their own government vessels to counter that inspection and the situation intensified quickly. Of course the Philippines does not really have a Navy as such and what it does have is pretty primitive by modern standards. It consists of older vessels, rather poorly maintained, from the United States Coast Guard and in spite of having reasonably capable national shipyards they have never had a shipbuilding programme for defence purposes.
Two decades ago they expelled the United States Navy from Subic Bay, now of course they would no doubt be quite pleased to have them based there to perform the defence of the Philippines for them. Three weeks ago the Philippines Government "blinked" and ordered all government vessels to leave the Scarborough Shoal/Huangyan Island and return to the mainland the excuse being the active typhoon season. It is now clear that the PRC is in effective control of that area and has both the will and firepower to enforce it.
As a result of all this the national pride of the Philippines, which is large but based on little, has taken a beating being based on a concept of themselves not necessarily shared by much of the rest of the world and it is reflected in many different ways. The national nerves are quite raw which expresses itself, for example, so that any criticism of points of view Posted in the Philippine maritime blogs is taken with great exception and instead of clearly countering with a logical alternate point of view degenerates into an attack 'Ad Hominem' as one webmaster expressed it so well.
The Philippines has absolutely no possibility of countering militarily any PRC take over of its claimed territory rightly or wrongly and can only hope to work diplomatically with the PRC to achieve a solution where it gets certain 'Rights' to work in what is now clearly PRC territory.