China places coast guard under military command

China places coast guard under military command
Starting July 1, the Chinese Coast Guard will be under direct leadership of the Central Military Commission.
Xinhua / Zhang Guojun

MANILA, Philippines — In a move seen as a warning to other countries, China has placed its coast guard under the country's army.

Starting July 1, the leadership of the Chinese coast guard will be transferred from the State Oceanic Administration to China's Central Military Commission.

Chinese state-run Xinhua reported that a marine police force under the Chinese People's Armed Police Force would function as a law enforcement body while securing the country's maritime rights.

China's coast guard would be in charge of fighting criminal maritime activities, search and rescue, law enforcement, environmental protection, fishery management and anti-smuggling efforts.

China's top legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, approved this decision a few weeks ago.

Under this new mandate, the Chinese coast guard would be more involved in military drills with the People's Liberation Army, according to Chinese newspaper Global Times.

Military expert Song Shongping told Global Times that the Chinese coast guard ships would be armed with more powerful small diameter cannons.

Under the Chinese military's command, coast guard personnel will also be authorized to carry firearms, Song said.

Song, however, said the Chinese coast guard would not be a threat as long as other countries would not "provoke" Beijing's sovereignty and maritime rights.

The Chinese coast guard recently drew ire following reports of seizing Filipino fishermen's catch in the South China Sea.

Local fishermen revealed that some Chinese coast guard personnel have been taking fish from their boats in exchange of noodles, cigarette and water. The so-called barter exchange between Chinese coast guard personnel and Filipino fishermen has been going on for a while when GMA News released its report on the incident.

The Chinese government vowed "serious investigation" into the incident and assured the Philippines that there would be punishment for erring coast guard personnel. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

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