Collin Koh Profile picture
Research Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. Focuses on naval affairs, maritime security and geopolitics in SE Asia and SCS especially.
Norah Huang Profile picture 1 added to My Authors
15 May
MINI-THREAD: Yesterday (15/5) at Zhoushan, the PLA Eastern Theater Command Navy dispatched the 38th Escort Task Force for counter-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden. Notably, destroyer Nanjing debuts for such mission. My updated table below. xinhuanet.com/english/2021-0… Image
My first observation is that from 2019, the composition of a typical ETF has stabilized to 1 destroyer, 1 frigate and 1 replenishment oiler. Prior to that, shortfalls in destroyers would mean either 2 frigates were deployed, or that there'll be LPDs filling the slot sometimes. 1/
Second observation is the PLA Navy's increased fleet capacity accords the luxury of dispatching different ships each time, unlike in the past (up until the end of 2017) when the same ship would be deployed again. 2/
Read 10 tweets
9 Apr
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/
Read 24 tweets
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. cnnphilippines.com/news/2021/2/16…
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.” philstar.com/headlines/2016…
Exhibit 2: "He told us we should not be overly celebrating, because we might offend China," Lorenzana. gmanetwork.com/news/news/nati…
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. reuters.com/article/us-chi…
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%. reuters.com/article/us-hea… 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. globaltimes.cn/page/202101/12…
“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. reuters.com/article/us-hea…
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. scmp.com/news/china/mil…
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
13 Nov 20
Generally I find RAND research outputs really insightful and useful. But sorry to say that this report is afflicted by certain stereotypes, and some wishful thinking about areas for future cooperation. rand.org/pubs/research_…
THREAD 1/: As of this writing, Singapore’s economic performance is sluggish, and national elections in 2020 marked a
transition to a new generation of leaders. Given these considerations, Singapore is undertaking
an effort to boost its ties with Beijing (p.12)
2/: Since the upheavals in 2016, SG has already undertaken efforts to mend ties with Beijing, and recent moves represent a continuation, not a "boost" as asserted by the authors. It also implied the new-gen leadership is inclined towards policy shift. This is incorrect.
Read 20 tweets
24 Aug 20
THREAD: so much to unpack in one sentence: "Worsening China-US ties are not good to overseas Chinese communities, considering that Chinese Singaporeans make up 75 percent of its population." H/t: @SCS_Disputes globaltimes.cn/content/119827…
Singaporean Chinese, not Chinese Singaporean. Nation first, ethnicity second. This is what defines Singapore as a multi-ethnic society, where national identify binds diverse ethnicity and cultures together. And this has been drilled in primary school since my times at least. 1/
The allusion that "Chinese Singaporeans" are "overseas Chinese communities" is outright misleading and patronizing. This label perhaps applies to my grandparents' generations, since they were emigres who directly came to colonial SG from China (back then PRC didn't exist). 2/
Read 9 tweets
10 Jul 20
Just witnessed it myself after I fulfilled my citizenry rights: long queues with minimal enforcement of social distancing, disposable gloves dispensed with just to speed up the process. In summary, holding an election amidst a pandemic is simply careless and opportunistic.
I’m not a political scientist who specialises in Singapore’s politics but as a concerned citizen born and bred in this tiny island city state, I’ll like to offer some observations. A long thread to share with those of you who may be keen on SG general elections yesterday. 1/
GE2020 results as shown. It’ll appear that PAP got an almost clean sweep of all 93 seats in the unicameral parliament, which might have fulfilled PM Lee’s call for a strong mandate amidst the pandemic crisis. But there’s much more than it meets the eye here. 2/
Read 33 tweets
29 Jun 20
Short thread: Recall despite the Asian Financial Crisis in 1990s and global economic recession in 2008, Singapore persisted with its defense programmes. Pandemic and its economic uncertainty now puts this "neither feast nor famine" policy in question. straitstimes.com/singapore/saf-…
Some useful materials here from Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen's SAF Day 2020 interview can be found here, including transcript of the chat, and accompanying materials on key training initiatives and defense acquisition programmes. sgpc.gov.sg/media_releases… 1/
"Even for 2021, next year, full recovery remains uncertain.
MINDEF/SAF are taking measures to cut cost where we can without compromising critical operations or reduction in SAF’s medium and long-term capabilities. We will continue to be prudent in our spending," Ng said. 2/
Read 9 tweets
15 May 19
EVENT THREAD: International Maritime Security Conference (IMSC) 2019, jointly organised by the Republic of Singapore Navy, RSIS, and with support from Experia.
RADM Lew Chuen Hong, Chief of RSN, at his opening remarks for #IMSC2019, highlighting the long history of use of the seas and oceans by mankind as a global commons. But he also opined that “shared spaces” within this domain also brought about friction between nation-states.
RADM Lew emphasised the origins and contemporary practice of UNCLOS as a framework of rules and norms for the international community to peacefully use the seas and oceans. #IMSC2019
Read 73 tweets
21 Feb 19
THREAD: in the wake of the DW interview with Singapore defense minister Dr Ng Eng Hen there’s been some well-considered criticism amongst my foreign peers and colleagues about what he said. I want to offer my personal thoughts. See the said DW interview: m.dw.com/en/singapore-d…
1/ Singapore as a small country lacking geostrategic depth, surrounded by much bigger neighbours, is a geographical constant that we can’t change. We live with this reality, and make the best out of it. Ultimately, bottom line is that our national interests count.
2/ in pursuing our national interests, we ought to consider all opportunities and costs in our strategic calculus and seek a fine if often precarious balance between such competing and often contradictory factors, especially concerning foreign and security policy issues.
Read 24 tweets