China is to beef up ifs ability to patrol the waters off its shores, according to state media. The People’s Daily, quoting an unnamed senior official, says the China Maritime Surveillance (CMS) force will increase its personnel numbers to 15,000 from the current 9,000 by 2020. The number of ships in its fleet is to increase to more than 520, up from the 350 in the build-up plan under the current five-year plan. The number of aircraft will be increased to 16 from nine by the end of the decade.
China says there is a growing need to protect what it calls its “maritime security” as there has been a sharp rise in intrusions by foreign vessels and planes into what it claims are its waters and airspace. In 2010, the CMS monitored intrusions by 1,303 foreign ships and 214 foreign planes compared with a combined 110 cases in 2007, the CMS official said.
The comments come against a background of continuing tensions within the 200 miles of territorial waters China claims, particularly in the resource-rich and much disputed waters of the South China Sea. Earlier this week, the CMS dispatched one of its largest and most modern patrol vessels, the Haixun-31, after Vietnam has conducted live fire exercises there.