China-Southeast Asia: A Chinese media outlet reported today that a 5,000-ton law enforcement patrol ship will be based at what Beijing calls Sansha City in the Paracel Islands, in the South China Sea. The China Ocean News reported the ship will begin making regular patrols in the South China Sea to enforce new regulations.
Meanwhile, on Monday, a naval task group from the South Sea Fleet set sail from a military port on Hainan Island for a drill in the South China Sea. The Chinese claimed the drill is part of the annual exercise cycle and will include combat exercises in the West Pacific Ocean and the east Indian Ocean.
The three-ship task group consists of the amphibious landing craft Changbaishan and destroyers Wuhan and Haikou, according to the press statement. The Changbaishan is the country's largest landing ship by gross tonnage and is equipped with an advanced weapon system. Both the Wuhan and the Haikou have experience of major drills and escort missions in the Gulf of Aden.
Comment: The Chinese are moving with deliberate speed to demonstrate they have the law enforcement and naval capabilities to back up their claim to own almost all of the South China Sea and to enforce their new fishing regulations. Negotiations are nice, but the foreign ministry spokesperson said today that China's ownership of the islands and the sea areas is "indisputable."
The naval statement indicates the Chinese also intend to show the flag and train in India's region of influence in the eastern Indian Ocean. That would represent a deliberate taunt at the Indian armed forces which have a joint base in the Andaman Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean.
Finally, the Chinese seem particularly fond of identifying their naval ships and crews that gained ocean patrol experience from their anti-pirate patrols off the coast of Somalia, in cooperation with NATO and other modern navies. They received excellent training and evidently were adept students.
Thailand: Today, Prime Minister Yingluck's government declared a 60-day state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas to control large demonstrations, sometimes violent, whose purpose is to force the government to resign.
The government said it intends to rely on the police to enforce the decree, instead of the armed forces. The emergency decree empowers authorities to impose a curfew, ban public gatherings of more than five people, detain suspects for 30 days without charge and censor media.
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