China is increasing is maritime surveillance force to 15,000 people by 2020, up from 9,000 now, according to a report on Friday in China Daily, an English-language newspaper. By 2015, the aviation branch of the force, which is officially civilian in nature and operates under the State Ocean Administration, will have 16 aircraft; the sea patrol fleet will have 350 vessels by then, and 520 by 2020, the report said.
Some American military analysts say the Chinese Navy has been trying to grow its operational influence over civilian ships, which often patrol disputed territorial waters like the South China Sea. This has been an especially tense year in that sea because of a number of encounters between Chinese, Vietnamese and Philippine vessels. On Wednesday, China sent its biggest civilian maritime patrol ship, the 3,000-ton Haixun 31, from Guangdong Province to Singapore for a two-week visit, to monitor activities and inspect suspicious foreign vessels in the South China Sea.
Source: New York Times