Beijing: Amid territorial disputes with some of its neighbours, China has unveiled plans to restructure its top oceanic body to bring it under a single unified command to better protect and utilise its marine resources.
The move will bring China`s maritime law enforcement forces, currently scattered among different ministries, under the unified management of a single administration, according to new plan of restructuring delivered by State Councillor Ma Kai at the National People`s Congress (NPC) yesterday.
The biggest reforms in oceanic organisation of China, which do not have Coast Guards unlike other countries, involved unifying maritime law enforcement forces under the country`s top oceanic administration.
The new agency will be named the National Oceanic Administration (NOA).
It will have under its control the coast guard forces of the Public Security Ministry, the fisheries law enforcement command of the Agriculture Ministry and the maritime anti-smuggling police of the General Administration of Customs, Ma said.
The move aims to "safeguard the country`s maritime rights and interests," Ma said.
"The effectiveness of law enforcement is not high, and the ability to defend rights is inadequate," Ma said, noting that the new administration will carry out law enforcement duties in the name of China`s maritime police bureau and under the operational direction of the public security ministry.
The sweeping reforms come at a time when China is intertwined in a spat with Japan over the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. Beijing is also at odds with several Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, over islands in the South China Sea.
Li Jie, a senior captain at the Chinese Naval Research Institute, said territorial tensions were "part of the reason" for the China`s maritime administration shake up.
"Scattered maritime law enforcement bodies among different departments are both chaotic and inefficient. The dispute merely exposed this problem," Li told the Global Times.
"China now faces a complicated situation in maritime diplomacy. These reforms will help China better safeguard its sovereign integrity," he said.
China whose navy function under the integrated command of the People`s Liberation Army, lacks Coast Guards dedicated to the protection of the maritime boundaries and resources.
Instead Coast Guards work is done through well equipped Marine Surveillance ships.
Ma said the move is aimed at solving problems related to inefficient maritime law enforcement, improving the protection and utilization of oceanic resources and better safeguarding the country`s maritime rights and interests.