China Coast Guard Conducts Maritime Rescue Drill Near Huangyan Dao Amidst Regional Tensions

The Philippines, which also claims the region as its own, recently concluded the Balikatan military exercise with the U.S.
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  • 09:21 AM, May 14, 2024
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China Coast Guard Conducts Maritime Rescue Drill Near Huangyan Dao Amidst Regional Tensions
Chinese Coast Guard boats water-cannon Filipino vessel near Scarborough Shoal in April 2024 @PCG

The China Coast Guard (CCG) recently conducted a maritime rescue exercise in the waters surrounding Huangyan Dao, also known internationally as Scarborough Shoal.

The drill, which simulated a rescue operation for personnel fallen overboard, underscores China's assertion of sovereignty over the contested island in the South China Sea.

The exercise involved the CCG ship Chuanshan, which launched a small boat to retrieve a mock rescue target and administer first aid, according to a video released by Chinese state media on Monday. This demonstration of readiness is part of the CCG's routine operations aimed at ensuring the safety of Chinese fishing vessels in the area.

Chinese experts, as reported by the Global Times, argue that such exercises are a legitimate and normal part of the CCG's activities around what they consider Chinese territory. They emphasize that the CCG is prepared to offer aid to anyone in need, regardless of nationality.

However, the exercise comes at a time of heightened tensions in the South China Sea, where multiple nations, including the Philippines, contest China's territorial claims. The Philippines, under a 2016 agreement, conducts fishing activities near Huangyan Dao but is restricted from entering its lagoon or causing environmental damage.

In a related incident, exclusive videos obtained by the Global Times purportedly show Philippine fishermen illegally landing on the island, engaging in disruptive behavior, and polluting the area. This has been criticized by Chinese observers as exacerbating environmental damage around the island.

China's recent maneuvers and public dissemination of information about Huangyan Dao appear to be a strategic move to reinforce its claims over the island. Analysts suggest that these activities highlight China's ongoing efforts to assert its jurisdiction in the region amidst provocations from the Philippines.

Concurrently, the Philippines and the United States concluded the Balikatan military exercise from April 11 to May 9, emphasizing interoperability between the two allies. During the exercise, the 1st Multi-Domain Task Force (MDTF) experimented with new structures and capabilities, particularly focusing on electronic warfare, unmanned aerial systems, and high-altitude balloons.

The MDTF's operations in the Philippines aimed to enhance joint capabilities and resilience against regional access denial tactics. This included deploying technologies like the K1000 drone and high-altitude balloons to improve surveillance and communications.

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