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How Beijing is using ‘fishing militia’ to assert its claims in the South China Sea

ChinaDiplomacy

How Beijing is using ‘fishing militia’ to assert its claims in the South China Sea

Fishing boats joined a coastguard vessel in latest confrontation with the Philippines near Second Thomas ShoalThere is concern that China is blurring the lines between civilian and military forces to achieve its goalsSouth China SeaJack LauPublished: 6:00am, 23 Sep, 2023Why you can trust SCMP

In the early hours of September 8, two Philippine boats and their two coastguard escorts sailed towards the contested Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea.

It was their third mission in five weeks to deliver food, water and fuel to troops on the submerged reef in the Spratly archipelago.

To Beijing, those troops – who use a grounded World War II warship as a base – are illegally occupying the Chinese territory of Renai Jiao. The reef is controlled by Manila but also claimed by Beijing, Taipei and Hanoi.

As the Philippine vessels neared the reef, Chinese ships stationed nearby tried to stop them, according to data from ship tracking site MarineTraffic.

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