Skip to comments.China to establish permanent Senkaku patrols
Posted on 12/20/2010 4:19:50 AM PST by FromLori
China will permanently deploy large fisheries patrol vessels in waters near the disputed Senkaku Islands, a senior Chinese official told The Asahi Shimbun.
The official with the Ministry of Agriculture's Bureau of Fisheries took the unusual step of granting an interview concerning the Senkaku issue to a foreign media outlet on Saturday, saying that China was planning measures to challenge Japan's control of the islands off Okinawa Prefecture.
The official said fisheries patrol vessels of more than 1,000 tons would maintain continuous patrols near the islands, which are known as the Diaoyu Islands in China.
"It is a legitimate right to safeguard China's maritime interests, and the country is unlikely to relax the arrangement in the future," the official, who granted the interview on condition of anonymity, said.
In late November, China deployed the new 2,580-ton Yuzheng 310, one of the few large fisheries patrol vessels in its fleet, to the islands.
The official called the decision to deploy the ship, which was only completed in September, in waters also patrolled by the Japan Coast Guard an "unprecedented and epoch-making step."
The Yuzheng 310 is equipped with two helicopters and is the fastest in China's fisheries patrol fleet, with a top speed of 22 knots.
The Japan Coast Guard has deployed several patrol vessels of more than 1,000 tons to the islands, after the arrest by Japan of a captain of a Chinese fishing trawler who rammed two Coast Guard vessels off the Senkaku Islands led to a major diplomatic row between the two countries in September.
It designated the area a special zone and put its headquarters in charge, rather than offices on Ishigaki island or the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Naha under whose jurisdiction the islands fall. Vessels from across Japan have been dispatched to the area.
But a senior Japan Coast Guard official said current arrangement would not be sufficient to respond to constant patrols by China near the islands.
China's 1,300-vessel fisheries surveillance fleet's activities include protecting and managing Chinese fishing boats and monitoring foreign ships in waters over which China claims jurisdiction.
Most of these vessels are relatively small. China only possesses nine patrol ships of more than 1,000 tons. Some are converted naval ships and many are old.
China is planning to build about five new patrol vessels of more than 3,000 tons within five years, but the official said the fleet is not currently equipped to maintain constant surveillance near the Senkaku Islands alone. To deal with the shortage, China will commission private fishing boats to operate as patrol boats in the area in a joint effort by "the government and the private sector."
The official said Beijing intends to press its claims over the islands and disclose details of its surveillance activities to other countries.
The Senkaku Islands are in the East China Sea, to the north of Taiwan, but China is also taking a hard-line on its interests in the South China Sea south of Taiwan. Convoys of Chinese patrol vessels and fishing boats began surveillance there this spring.
The official said China's territorial claims in the South China Sea were a "core national interest" on a par with the issues of Taiwan and Tibet, which China sees as vital to its territorial integrity.
"(The South China Sea) has consistently been one of China's core national interests," said the official. "China had merely not insisted on this to other countries."
This stance had given the international community the mistaken impression that "China is not very keen on its maritime interests," the official said.
China is trying to assert its control in waters within what it calls the "First Island Chain," a series of islands stretching from the main island of Kyushu to Vietnam, and has its eye on underground mineral resources, fisheries and other maritime interests within this "inland sea."
It is building up its navy in line with its increasingly assertive maritime stance, with aircraft carriers and a base for nuclear-powered submarines already under construction.
-and has its eye on underground mineral resources, fisheries and other maritime interests-
The real reason. This is only a first step.