The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) yesterday released information on the numbers of personnel it has deployed at coastal stations and defense installations across Taiwan proper and on outlying islands, sparking great interest as it also includes figures for territories in the South China Sea.
In a report, the agency said it had a total of 13,467 service personnel at the end of last month, 6,448 fewer than its highest total of 19,915 in 2000, when the current iteration of the CGA was first established.
With regards to the South China Sea, the report said the CGA has 255 troops in the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島), and 168 troops in the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島).
The report also gave information about the CGA’s flotilla stations and patrol offices for its two main task divisions — the Maritime Patrol Directorate-General, which is responsible for all maritime patrols and operations at sea, and the Coastal Patrol Directorate General, which is responsible for land-based operations, primarily the patrolling of harbors, beaches and other coastal areas.
Coast guard personnel based in the South China Sea are under the purview of the agency’s Dongsha Command Post and Nansha Command Post.
The report represents the first time that the CGA has listed personnel deployment information about territories in the South China Sea islands, raising speculation about the timing of the release and the government’s intentions.
Media reports showing that Beijing has installed a powerful radar station on the Cuarteron Reef (Huayang Reef, 華陽礁) in the Spratlys, along with Chinese deployment of surface-to-air missiles in the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島), have given rise to concern that tensions in the region are in danger of heating up.
Of the CGA’s personnel, 3,046 or 22.61 percent, work in mainly administrative jobs, including maritime police, customs officers, technicians and other office workers.
The other 10,421 or 77.39 percent, are uniformed personnel.
In its mission statement, the CGA is tasked with ensuring national maritime security, Taiwan’s safety in the high seas and coastal areas, protecting the nation’s oceanic resources, and safeguarding the rights and interests of the people.
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