US Coast Guard to tackle China's 'illegal' fishing in Pacific

24 Octobre, 2020, 15:56 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau

The United States has said it would deploy Coast Guard ships in the western Pacific for maritime security missions, citing illegal fishing and vessel harassment from China.

Accusing China of "illegal" and "unregulated" fishing, as well as "harassment" of fishing boats from regional countries, White House National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien said in a statement that the US Coast Guard "is strategically homeporting significantly enhanced Fast Response Cutters.in the western Pacific".

Describing the U.S. as a Pacific power, the statement added that China's "illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and harassment of vessels operating in the exclusive economic zones of other countries in the Indo-Pacific threatens our sovereignty, as well as the sovereignty of our Pacific neighbors and endangers regional stability".

It said USA efforts, including by the Coast Guard, were "critical to countering these destabilising and malign actions".

The announcement comes as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the EU's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, had launched the first US-EU Dialogue on China on Friday. Washington hopes the grouping of the US, Japan, India and Australia can act as a bulwark against China's growing assertiveness and extensive maritime claims in the region, including to almost all of the South China Sea.

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The statement described the United States as a Pacific power and added that China's "illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and harassment of vessels operating in the exclusive economic zones of other countries in the Indo-Pacific threatens our sovereignty, as well as the sovereignty of our Pacific neighbours and endangers regional stability".

Last month, Indonesia protested about an incursion by Chinese coastguard ships in its exclusive economic zone, which is situated between its own territorial waters and worldwide waters and where the state claims exclusive rights to exploit natural resources.

The US Navy regularly angers China by conducting what it calls "freedom of navigation" operations close to some of the islands China occupies that are also claimed by other states.

China claims nearly the whole of the South China Sea as its own, a claim contested by several countries including Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

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