In follow up to Allen’s question, https://hiddenharmonies.org/2015/10/29/u-s-s-china-sea-provocation-what-next/, I thought it only appropriate to show what is already happening.
US, by claiming the right of conducting military surveillance under “freedom of navigation”, escalated the provocation by essentially the logic of “We are here with guns, what are you going to do about it?”
Yet, already after, US defense experts and policy makers are already answering their own question: China is arming fishing boats and turning them into Militia Navy, in a strategy US is calling the “Little Blue Men”. http://thediplomat.com/2015/11/little-blue-men-doing-chinas-dirty-work-in-the-south-china-sea/
The extent of implementation of China’s new strategy is not clear. US experts are only speculating that China has “200,000 vessels” of fishing fleet with 14 million workers (Not actual number of sailors), that can be armed.
They also speculate that China’s fleet may be similarly fitted with surveillance equipment, and used to relay information all over the south China Sea.
US experts neglected to mention that this speculative scenario depends solely upon US’s own interpretation of Law of Sea, that “freedom of navigation” allowed US to conduct military surveillance.
Because by US’s precedence, China would have no legal problems with arming its fishing fleets and let them perform interdiction/interception missions. Why not? Afterall, US says it’s legal to do so. So what if 0.2 million armed fishing boats are roaming around in SCS instead of a couple of destroyers?
Hey, Chinese fishing boats are just protecting their own “freedom of navigation”.
As with many issues of disputes with China, sooner or later, it comes down to numbers. And sooner or later, China will have more.
And when it comes to SCS, it’s a big ocean, not a small pond. Numbers matter.
If US didn’t want to play that game, it shouldn’t have opened that can of worms with its continual military surveillance against China.
Because if China really did/does arm 0.2 million fishing boats to do what US does in the name of “freedom of navigation”, they would be tracking and watching the US Fleets from Hawaii to Japan.