The behavior of the Chinese Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels in the South China Sea is “not consistent” with how the best coast guards in the world should act and operate.
This was the assessment made by Admiral Karl Schultz, Commandant of the United States Coast Guard during a media teleconference on Thursday, July 29, 2021, citing several ramming incidents involving Chinese militia vessels and in the same reporting, the Chinese Coast Guard.
“I think what I would say as the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, and I think amongst the world’s best-recognized coast guards for following a rules-based order for our behaviors across the globe, is that (China’s) behavior does not seem consistent to me with how the world’s best coast guards should operate and how the world’s best coast guards should act,” Schultz told reporters during the Asia-Pacific Hub teleconference.
The top US coast guard chief said they have seen examples where the Chinese government has used their China Cost Guard, which was a civilian-led agency until 2018, as the “auctioning arm” with the latter extending such function to Chinese maritime militias.
He noted that the Chinese maritime militias are alleged to be fishermen, but with what “would appear to be vessels of the state or purchased by the state, with water cannons.”
“I think we’ve seen China use their Coast Guard as the actioning arm, and I think we’ve also seen, by extension of that, using the maritime militias as an actioning arm. And we have seen examples, and I think it’s all been in public domain reporting press of militia vessels running down other regional fishermen in disputed spaces, and we’ve seen some of the same reporting on the China coast guard,” the US coast guard official said.
In his four years as head of the US Coast Guard, Schultz said they have seen regions that were “small spits of sand in the ocean that now have been built up and they’re turned into islands.”
These built-up islands, he said, have military capabilities and defensive systems.
“I mean, there’s a – they’re sort of the delta or the gap between the words and the behaviors that we see from visual observation,” he said.