While communist China comes under fire for unleashing the coronavirus, its rogue behavior threatens to destabilize the world in other ways as well.
China’s naval ambitions are no secret, but less noted is the role of its massive fishing fleet — which by some accounts is evolving into a hostile “militia” that routinely overfishes oceans around the globe, the Washington Examiner reported.
China’s fishing fleet is becoming a threat
China’s communist regime invests billions in its distant-fishing fleet, which has over 2,000 ships by China’s official count alone, the Washington Examiner reports. America only has 300.
In recent years, China’s fishing ships have been found fishing in sovereign waters far beyond Chinese territory, often with their tracking turned off. Critics call this “going dark.” They insist that China is secretly overfishing, with serious political, environmental, and trade risks.
“No country engages in more illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing than China,” Gordon Chang, foreign affairs expert, told the Examiner.
China denies the charges, but its fishermen have occasionally been caught in the act. Their harassment has been a particular problem off the coast of Latin America, Business Insider notes, where China’s overtures have sometimes led to skirmishes, as in 2016, when Argentina sank one of its ships.
In Ecuador, Chinese fishermen were sent to jail for harvesting thousands of sharks off the Galapagos Islands.
China has also been accused of using its fishing fleet to assert territorial claims in the South China Sea, where a group of 200 Chinese boats sailed into disputed waters claimed by the Philippines in March.
The administration of former President Donald Trump, whose warnings about China’s rise brought the topic to the forefront of American politics, sanctioned China’s fishing activities as a security threat, Business Insider reported.
“This is really about systemic violations of sovereign nation rights. It’s about threatening sovereignty, economic security, a weakening of the global rules-based order,” Adm. Karl Schultz, the commandant of the Coast Guard, said in September.
China’s maritime behavior is just one example of what Western critics call its disregard for the “rules-based international order.” President Biden and NATO called China a threat to the world this week, in a sign of how deeply its hostility is alienating the West.
Trump has taken things further, saying China must pay reparations for its coverup of the catastrophic COVID pandemic.