Ilya TsukanovAll materialsWrite to the authorThe US Coast Guard has a peculiar habit of showing up in waters thousands of kilometers from the US’ home shores, with its ships regularly spotted sailing and engaging in so-called “freedom of navigation” patrols in the Persian Gulf and off China’s coast. Beijing has slammed these patrols, calling them “provocative.”The United States Coast Guard plans to dramatically ramp up its presence in the Indo-Pacific region beginning next March as part of broader plans to increase security collaboration between Washington and regional nations, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas has announced, local media reported.
Speaking to journalists on Tuesday during his mini-tour of Southeast Asia for Singapore International Cyber Week, Mayorkas said the US has committed $60 million for the deployment of US personnel and assets with partners to facilitate the "defense" of "sovereignty" and the countering of illegal fishing activities in the region.
The secretary, to whose agency the Coast Guard is subordinated, did not elaborate on specific plans.China regularly expresses concerns over the deployment of Coast Guard vessels near the People’s Republic’s home shores, thousands of kilometers from the US coast. Coast Guard deployments have included training exercises with Taiwan – a wayward island which Beijing claims as its own, and the sailing of Coast Guard ships directly through the Taiwan Strait.
US Coast Guard Touts Expanded Role in Pacific, Says China Gets ‘Excited’ During Training With Taiwan12 January, 18:16 GMTThe US Coast Guard is unique in the world in that it includes three operational command centers situated abroad, including the USCG Far East Activities command at Yokota Air Base, Japan, USCG Activities Europe, based in in Schinnen, the Netherlands, and Patrol Forces Southwest Asia in Manama, Bahrain. The Coast Guard is under the DHS’ control during peacetime, but can be transferred to the Pentagon’s purview in wartime.Earlier this year, US Navy Chief of Naval Operations Michael Gilday accused Beijing (which has no foreign coast guard commands) of using the People’s Republic’s Coast Guard forces to “undermine international norms” through the militarization of “geographic features in the South and East China Seas,” and charged the PRC with “intimidating its neighbors regarding offshore resources.”Last year, Chinese legislators imbued the nation’s Coast Guard with the power to use “any means necessary,” including firing on foreign ships, to protect areas under China’s jurisdiction.Wide swathes of the South China Sea are disputed between China, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. China and its maritime neighbors have been negotiating an agreement aimed at regulating the dispute since the early 2000s, but these efforts have been undermined by Washington’s moves to forge bilateral alliances with claimant nations since the early 2010s. Beijing has repeatedly urged Washington, which is a non-claimant to the maritime areas, to butt out of regional matters.
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The United States will also be ramping up its cybersecurity activities with partner nations to create a “free and open cyber ecosystem,” Mayorkas said in Tuesday’s remarks. “The cyber security of our respective countries and our collective security is a vital issue – and more so than it has ever been in the past,” he said.“We have seen quite a number of attacks perpetrated by cybercriminals as well as by adverse nation states such as Russia, the People’s Republic of China, North Korea and Iran,” the secretary alleged, without elaborating on these claims.Mayorkas characterized Chinese technology and tech infrastructure as a unique threat to the region, suggesting these products provide Beijing with the “capacity to control expression through technical capability.” The official called on the US and its allies to ramp up information-sharing on cyber threats and vulnerabilities, and for the creation of “regional cyber emergency response” teams to deal with potential threats.China has repeatedly dismissed claims that its technology products pose any threat to the US or any other nation, and tech giants such as Huawei have repeatedly offered to sign “no-spy” and “no-backdoor” guarantees to assuage any privacy concerns regarding their equipment, a commitment few of its Western competitors have been ready to make.
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