By Michael Martina and Benjamin Kang Lim
BEIJING, June 17Â (Reuters) – China will boost its coastal forces by adding ships and 6,000 personnel by 2020, state media said on Friday, a move likely to raise tensions with neighbours staking rival claims to waters thought to hold vast reserves of oil and gas.
The expansion of the China Maritime Surveillance (CMS) forces, a paramilitary law enforcement agency that patrols China’s territorial waters, was unveiled two days after the country sent its largest civilian maritime patrol ship to the South China Sea.
The moves show Beijing’s resolve to protect its “maritime rights and sovereignty” which it says have been increasingly violated amid a rising frequency of disputes, but other claimants are also keen to show they are not backing down.
The Philippines has sent its largest warship — a Second World War-vintage destroyer escort — on a patrol that would take it through the disputed Scarborough Shoals in the South China Sea, off its main island of Luzon.
“The navy conducts regular offshore patrols and we should not connect the deployment of Rajah Humabon to the deployment of China’s maritime vessel,” said Eduardo Batac, spokesman for the Philippine Defence Department.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario met diplomats from the nine other Association of South East Asian Nations states in Manila, urging a common position and approach to resolve the South China Sea dispute.
China’s maritime forces, under the State Oceanic Administration, will
To read more, visit:Â http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFL3E7HH18320110617
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