By Zong Haiping
The Coast Guard Law of the People’s Republic of China officially came into effect not long ago. The stipulations that the China Coast Guard (CCG) has dual attributes of both an administrative law enforcement unit and an armed force have attracted attention from the outside world. Some people took the opportunity to hype the “militarization” of the CCG, claiming that the use of weapons by the CCG in law enforcement would pose a serious threat to regional peace and stability. This is absolute nonsense.
The “dual attributes” of the CCG means that it is not only an administrative law enforcement force in peacetime, but also an armed force in wartime. First, from the perspective of the legitimate authority and affiliation of other countries’ maritime police, the Chinese legislation is no different from international practices.
The China Coast Guard Law stipulates: “The CCG of the Chinese People’s Armed Police Force (PAP) is the coast guard agency that performs maritime rights protection and law enforcement duties in a unified manner”, and “the coast guard agency performs defense operations and other tasks in accordance with relevant laws, military regulations, and orders from the Central Military Commission (CMC)”.
Similarly, the coast guard laws or related laws of many other countries also stipulate that their coast guards have the dual attributes of an administrative law enforcement unit and an armed force:
The US Coast Guard Act stipulates that the Coast Guard is a component of the military force and the US Armed Forces. During times of war, it is a specialized active-duty department affiliated with the Navy and performs its command of maritime defense areas.
The Australian Coast Guard Bill stipulates that Australian Coast Guard is an Australian Federal Maritime Police Agency and is under the direct leadership of the Australian Defense Force during wartime.
The Law on the Vietnam Coast Guard stipulates that the Vietnam Coast Guard is a people's armed and specialized force of the State, and a maritime law enforcement force to maintain national security, maritime order and safety.
The Philippines Coast Guard Law of 2009 stipulates that the Philippine Coast Guard is an armed and standardized force attached to the Department of Transportation and Communications; and in wartime, be attached to the Department of National Defense.
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency Act stipulates that the Maritime Enforcement Agency shall be under the command and control of the Armed Forces of Malaysia during emergencies, special crises and wars.
Second, China’s practice is also in line with international practices based on the ships and weapons equipped by the coast guards of various countries in practice.
Take the US Coast Guard for example, an important source of ships is warships which are equipped with shipboard artillery systems, machine guns, heavy machine guns and other weapons. They can be equipped with helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicle systems, and even with more lethal weapons in wartime. It is essentially an armed force, so it naturally has dual attributes.
且看美国海警，舰船的一项重要来源就是军舰，并配有舰炮、机关炮、重机枪等武器，可以搭载直升机和无人飞行器系统，战时能迅速配备更大杀伤力的武器。其物理性质就是武装力量，天然具有双重属性。Although the coast guards of the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan and other countries are not as powerful as the US Coast Guard, they are all equipped with warship-class ships and shipborne weapons.
Additionally, in countries such as the UK, Italy, France and Indonesia, the military directly performs coast guard duties and implements maritime law enforcement tasks.
It is not difficult to see that the relevant provisions of China’s Coast Guard Law are in full compliance with international practices and conventions. The criticisms and hype from the outside world are unreasonable, which are completely fabricated rumors that turned facts upside down.
Some countries have unilaterally emphasized the military attribute of the CCG, which is obviously ill-intentioned. However, if they really confuse right from wrong, they will maliciously treat the law enforcement actions of the CCG as military actions in the next step and add new “proof” to hype the so-called “China threat” and “Chinese maritime hegemony”.
(The author is an observer on international issues)
Editor's note: This article is originally published on huanqiu.com, and is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.