THREAD: following reports of PLA Navy Type-022 Houbei catamaran missile fast attack craft harassing a motorboat chartered by ABS-CBN journalists in the Spratlys, Beijing's pretense about just using "white hulls" to promote SCS peace and stability is well over. Context is impt.
In recent years, especially after the disparate PRC maritime law enforcement agencies were unified under a single China Coast Guard, there has been internal debate within the agency about the challenges they face when carrying out maritime sovereignty and rights protection. 1/
One of the complaints within CCG is that, while PRC has been trying to "foster stability" by using "white hulls" to spearhead maritime sovereignty and rights protection duties, they often encounter navies of the SCS rivals, putting them at disadvantage, or so they claimed. 2/
Therefore, amongst various measures proposed, such as bolstering legislation (hence, the Coast Guard Law was promulgated), the CCG community called for stronger support from the PLA Navy, so that they can stand up against rival "grey hulls" in SCS. 3/
In May 2018, the first joint patrol involving the PLA Navy, CCG and Sansha local administration authorities was carried out over 5 days off the PRC-controlled Paracel Islands. This was to test a tailored and tiered response to maritime contingencies. 4/…
The joint patrol tested this method: if they encountered a foreign navy vessel, the PLA Navy steps in; if they encountered a foreign coastguard vessel, CCG steps in. Infringements by local fishermen dealt with by Sansha local maritime authorities. 5/
It's clear that the PLA Navy has stepped up its involvement in concert with CCG and other forces, incl. maritime militia, in waters further out into the SCS, especially in the Spratlys. It's no longer just "white hull" but a combination with "grey hull". 6/
This June 2019 report for instance, which detailed Philippine maritime forces observing PLA Navy assets operating around Scarborough Shoal. 7/…
In October that same year, the Liberia-flagged, Greek-owned crude oil tanker Green Aura which was manned by a Filipino crew, was harassed by what appear to be CCG vessels near Scarborough Shoal though PLA Navy assets were also believed to be nearby. 8/…
While CCG vessels tend to switch on their AIS simply to show their presence, the same doesn't always apply to PLA Navy assets. So the PRC entity that called itself "naval warship" in the Green Aura incident could well be a PLA Navy warship in the area. 9/
And late last month, a trio of PLA Navy Type-022 Houbei missile fast attack craft was spotted during an AFP aerial patrol along with a Dayun-class auxiliary at Mischief Reef, well within Philippine EEZ. 10/…
It's unclear as yet whether the Houbei are permanently stationed or temporarily deployed to Mischief Reef. Or whether we're seeing a pattern of rotational deployment of PLA Navy assets the same way as Beijing does with civilian vessels such this one. 11/…
What's evident is that the PLA Navy is now engaging in active patrols alongside the CCG and maritime militia in those so-called "waters under national jurisdiction" which include "other relevant waters" that should be interpreted to mean waters enclosed by 9DL. 12/
This latest PLA Navy harassment of the ABS-CBN chartered motorboat is not likely going to be a one-off, isolated incident. As part of the joint patrol framework involving CCG and other forces such as maritime militia across Paracel and Spratly Islands, we can expect repeats. 13/
The tiered response involving PLA Navy in PRC's maritime sovereignty and rights protection patrols in the SCS, coupled with the Coast Guard Law, carries serious ramifications for the concerned SE Asian parties. 14/
First is that SE Asian parties in SCS are traditionally hamstrung by shortfalls in maritime forces capacity; usually stronger in navies and weaker in coastguards. This means usually navies are on the front-line, and it may deter the CCG to an extent. 15/
But now with the PLA Navy actively involved in the patrols, there are higher chances of it being called upon by CCG to respond if the latter is confronted by any SE Asian navy patrol. PLA Navy surface combatants are superior to or matched at least with their rivals in SCS. 16/
While it's work in progress, it appears the process of promoting better coordination and synergy between PLA Navy, CCG and other forces is at least ahead of that in some other SE Asian parties in SCS. This will create more difficulty for the latter. 17/
Complicating the capacity shortfall problems in SE Asian maritime forces is the inter-service rivalries, duplication of efforts, overlapping mandates, stovepipes and turf wars between them, hampering inter-agency cooperation and coordination. 18/
It is therefore necessary not only to build assets and manpower, but also promote better inter-agency efforts, the need to revisit and put in place adequate maritime legislation, SOPs and suitable rules of engagement to deal with more complex scenarios at sea. 19/
This of course is the operational layer of what SE Asian parties can do in SCS, but it should be part of an overall, coherent whole-of-nation policy and strategy to deal with this evolving, increasingly complex gray zone aggression by Beijing. 20/
Finally, augmenting national-level initiatives to bolster whole-of-nation approach to maritime gray zone aggression should also be timely consideration for enhanced cooperation between like-minded SE Asian parties in the SCS, incl. better info-sharing. END
Some outlet essentially equated me to a purveyor of fake news by writing this thread. I not only stand by what I said, and my research, but also believe that nobody would put their own lives on the line at sea just to fabricate stories.
What else would you expect from the "chief architect of foreign policy"? He's practically a godsend for gray zone aggressors.…

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More from @CollinSLKoh

16 Feb
That's a load of crap, if you bother to dig out the list of transgressions which took place since late 2016. Crying victim and blame-push in order to justify asking Americans to pay to keep VFA? Want to have your cake and eat it, I suppose.…
Exhibit 1: “It is not enough that China now gives the impression that it is giving ‘permission’ to our fisherfolk to fish in the waters around the shoal… giving permission is an act of ownership, it should not stop our claim of ownership over the shoal.”…
Exhibit 2: "He told us we should not be overly celebrating, because we might offend China," Lorenzana.…
Read 8 tweets
24 Jan
@fravel Thank you Professor Taylor. Under Ch3, clause 20, the CCG is authorized to order foreign organizations or individuals to cease such unlawful activities or to dismantle/remove the structures, floating or fixed, within waters and on islands and reefs under national jurisdiction...
@fravel And the subsequent mention is that if the foreign organizations or individuals fail to heed those orders, CCG is authorized to stop those activities (i.e. construction of those structures) or forcibly dismantle/remove them...
@fravel This clause gives "stability-inducing cover" to CCG, because it first mandates CCG to order the other party to desist from constructing/emplacing those structures, and failing which, escalate the action to stop such activities or forcibly dismantling/removing those structures...
Read 11 tweets
22 Jan
THREAD: The 25th Standing Committee session of PRC's 13th National People's Congress passed the Coast Guard Law, which has been under deliberation and opened to "public consultation" for the past few months since last year. Some key takes below.…
1. There has been much reported in the press focusing on the authorization of CCG to open fire at foreign vessels. The first that came to my mind is that beyond how it could impact regional maritime flashpoints e.g. SCS disputes, it's a common practice worldwide anyway. 1/
2. Authorizing MLE agencies to open fire in the course of their law enforcement and sovereignty assertion duties is nothing new, since coastal states have had domestic laws governing such provisions. In 2018, Vietnam passed its new coast guard law that outlines the same. 2/
Read 32 tweets
14 Jan
THREAD: Since there's no background context provided here, I shall chip in to dispel the notion that the SCS arbitration brought forth by then Aquino Administration against Beijing in 2013 is "destabilizing" as claimed here.
Scarborough Shoal falls within Philippine EEZ. Due to its capacity shortfalls in enforcing fishery protection, Manila's enforcement in the shoal against foreign fishermen operating there had at best been intermittent throughout the decades. 1/
If one bothers to catalogue the instances of maritime activities in Scarborough Shoal, it's possible to uncover instances where PH maritime forces managed to apprehend PRC fishermen in the shoal. Beijing would protest but nothing more than that. 2/
Read 19 tweets
12 Jan
It's certainly more than 50% efficacy as reported last month. Though barely more so, by 0.4%.… ImageImage
Meanwhile, you can count on GT to strike a very upbeat tone that most likely won't help ameliorate public concerns about transparency over Beijing's vaccine data, nor will it help ameliorate negative public acceptance in several countries e.g. Philippines.…
“I’m not rejecting vaccines, I’m rejecting Sinovac’s,” said Yusdeny Lanasakti, an East Java doctor who is worried about the vaccine’s efficacy.…
Read 4 tweets
14 Nov 20
THREAD: Regarding such claim, we should of course exercise some caution and seek to ascertain its veracity. One way is PRC official publication of the circumstances of this test and outcomes, or Pentagon confirmation. Either way may not be forthcoming.…
1/: as an engineer by training, I’m aware there are practical limits to systems. It’s not as simple as launching a missile and expecting it to hit. A host of physical factors has to be accounted for. Even more complicated is having a ballistic missile hit a moving target.
2/: let’s assume the PLA has over the years honed its ISR capabilities focusing on the near seas, which is less ambitious compared to a global strike complex, there’s after all the possibility that the PLA manages to minimise the intervening physical factors to an accurate shot.
Read 12 tweets

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