Amid growing concern about the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) growing assertiveness in the Taiwan Strait, with its flurry of incursions into the nation’s airspace by fighter jets, other aircraft and even uncrewed aerial vehicles, Beijing’s efforts to legalize a new aggressiveness in the South and East China seas appears to have flown under the radar of several nations.
In June, Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun reported that China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) was working on revising the law on the People’s Armed Police Force to allow its coast guard to receive instructions from Beijing’s military during wartime, meaning that its coast guard would be able to collaborate with the PLA Navy in disputed waters. The story initially attracted little attention outside Japan, but on Wednesday, a notice was posted on the NPC’s Web site inviting comment on a draft coast guard law that would authorize law enforcers to demolish foreign constructions on Beijing-claimed reefs and allow the use of weapons “in the case of unlawful infringement by a national organization or individual” involved in “illegal activities” in its waters.
The draft law would authorize coast guard vessels “under attack” to respond with force, and to detain vessels that have illegally entered Chinese waters. Nominally, the proposal would expand the coast guard’s responsibility from protecting China’s marine resources and fishing industry to protecting its strategic islands and exclusive economic zones, as well as counterterrorism efforts.
If passed by the NPC, presumably at its annual session next year, the proposal would heighten the risk of conflict between China’s coast guard and those of Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam in areas ranging from the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) — known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan — to the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) and the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島).
For Taiwan, which has already butted heads with Tokyo over Japan’s actions toward Taiwanese fishing boats near the Diaoyutais, which are claimed by Taiwan, Japan and China, it means that disputes in the area could become a three-way balancing act.
It would also considerably raise the stakes for Taiwan’s government in responding to incursions by Chinese fishing and dredging boats in the waters around Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu if Chinese coast guard vessels can be called in to protect such vessels in their incursions into Taiwan’s territorial waters.
The proposed law also poses new challenges for the US, Australia and the UK, whose navies in the past few years have increased the number of passages through the Strait to reaffirm their commitment to freedom of passage in the international waterway.
Chinese analysts have said that the draft is aimed at defining the coast guard’s standard operating procedures and providing transparency for its interactions with foreign coast guard, navy or law enforcement forces, and that any use of force would need to be kept to a minimum. By defining the limits of the use of force, the law would enhance the safety in China’s territorial waters, they say.
That is unlikely to be the view in Taipei, Tokyo, Manila, Hanoi, Washington and other capitals.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) should not wait for the NPC to pass the law, but should reach out to Tokyo, Washington and other governments to forge a consensus on how to respond to this challenge, regardless of disputes over various islands and reefs.
China’s proposed law is the latest in Beijing’s efforts to turn the East and South China seas into its territorial waters. For the sake of regional security and international maritime commerce, it cannot go unchallenged.
I think it is fair to say there is a widespread sigh of relief among many Americans — particularly those of us focused on foreign policy — that the chaotic and unpredictable Trump years will soon be over. Mr. Trump brought little real knowledge or experience to his foreign policy, and it showed. He also — in my humble opinion — did not err on the side of expertise in his choice of top foreign policy officials. Nor was he particularly open to listening to advice. All in all a poor set of traits for overseeing the complex foreign policy
After more than eight years of talks, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed on Nov. 15, combining the individual free-trade agreements signed between ASEAN member states on the one hand, and China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand on the other. Under the leadership of ASEAN and China, most observers did not expect the RCEP to provide a high degree of openness, and the announced agreement lives up to these expectations, containing few surprises. All products covered by the RCEP tariff reductions are agricultural and industrial products, but reductions of agricultural product tariffs are very limited, for example covering
While the nation grapples with its falling birthrate, it is also imperative to address how parents are raising their children. The phenomenon of “dinosaur parents” — who lash out at teachers, store staff or people on the street when confronted about their children misbehaving — has been an issue for a while, but there seems to be an uncomfortably high number of incidents making the news lately. On Saturday, a preschool teacher on an online forum wrote about a mother who often visited the school and screamed at the staff for various reasons — including her child being late to school
On Nov. 14, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) commented on the nation’s low birthrate, claiming that young people would surely have children if only they married first, and that the low marriage rate among young people is the cause of the rapid aging of Taiwan’s society. The Taipei City Government therefore proposed to offer subsidies to couples willing to marry. Ko’s comment stirred up a great deal of protest. As a sociology student, I would like to remind the mayor that his remarks not only decontextualized the population aging issue, but also oversimplified the low birthrate problem. First, a look at systemic