China to beef up maritime forces

June 17th, 2011 - 1:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, June 17 (IANS) China will strengthen its offshore surveillance forces to ensure that its maritime interests are fully protected, an official said.

By 2020, a total of 15,000 personnel - compared to 9,000 now - will serve in the China Maritime Surveillance (CMS) force, the official told China Daily.

The CMS air wing would be increased to 16 aircraft. The marine patrol fleet will have 350 vessels by 2015. Currently, nine aircraft and 260 vessels are in operation.

The CMS has launched the construction of 36 new patrol ships, the official said.

Meanwhile, the country’s biggest patrol ship has been sent to the South China Sea to protect national “rights and sovereignty”.

The 3,000-tonne, helicopter-equipped Haixun 31 has set sail for Singapore for a two-week visit.

It would monitor foreign vessels anchored or operating in Chinese waters, carry out surveying duties, inspect oil wells and “protect maritime security”, Xinhua reported.

Chinese officials claim there have been an increasing number of intrusions by foreign vessels and planes in Chinese waters and airspace in recent years.

In 2010, the CMS monitored intrusions by 1,303 foreign ships and 214 planes.

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