Power Play

Reckoning with China's maritime militia in South China Sea

China’s use of grey-zone tactics involving militia fleets to assert its claim to contested territories and fishing grounds makes it harder for South-east Asian rival claimants and the United States to deal with

China officially denies using maritime militia to press its territorial claims.PHOTO: REUTERS

The Chinese fishing vessels lingered near the Spratly Islands' Whitsun Reef for weeks in March, neatly moored together in formation in a way no typical fishing boat could afford to be.

The Philippines, which claims the disputed reef as part of its exclusive economic zone, protested against their presence and accused the vessels of being part of China's maritime militia, paid to be there to assert Beijing's claims in the South China Sea.

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