China’s Coast Guard Law, 2021 Jan 22: A Little Peek

China’s Coast Guard Law, adopted 2021 Jan 22, effective 2021 Feb 01, gives many of its neighbour countries great concern, and with good reason. The law, in Chinese, is quite long. If you view this document as concerning a police force, its contents are not as shocking, but as I believe, most country’s Coast Guards are not maritime police forces, but part of the Ministry of Natural Resources, or even part of the military during war times. This is not the case for China. China’s Coast Guard is certainly a maritime police force, and has all the powers of one.

Hand-held weapons, shipbord and airborne weapons can be deployed if and when they see fit. There is a clause that bans torture at the hands of the Chinese Maritine Police Force, but that clause, also included in other Chinese laws, has routinely been ignored by Chinese police in the past.

China has annexed a vast majority of the South China Sea, and even infringes on the 200 km borders of neighbouring countries. This vast ocean is now patrolled by armed Chinese police, in ships, that can have not only shipborn weapons, but also military air support to enforce Chinese law, be it internationally legal or not. This must concern the world, as much of the South China Sea is considered open ocean to all countries but China.

The law is written quite broadly and can be easily misinterpreted by China’s Coast Guard, resulting is deadly consequences. Other countries can interpret this to mean they need permission to sail through the South China Sea, or they can be boarded and/or fired upon by China’s coast guard and/or military. Foreign countries doing freedom of navigation FON activities can also be at risk of military aggression by China. This law is also mentioned on Youtube.

第二十二条 国家主权、主权权利和管辖权在海上正在受到外国组织和个人的不法侵害或者面临不法侵害的紧迫危险时,海警机构有权依照本法和其他相关法律、法规,采取包括使用武器在内的一切必要措施制止侵害、排除危险。 Article 22. When national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed by foreign organizations and individuals at sea, or are facing an imminent danger of illegal infringement, the maritime police agency has the right to take measures including: Use all necessary measures including weapons to stop the infringement and eliminate danger.
第四十七条 有下列情形之一,经警告无效的,海警机构工作人员可以使用手持武器:



Article 47: In any of the following circumstances, the staff of the maritime police agency may use hand-held weapons if the warning is invalid:

(1) There is evidence that the ship is carrying criminal suspects or illegally carrying weapons, ammunition, state secret materials, drugs and other items, and refuses to obey the stopping order;

(2) A foreign ship enters the waters under the jurisdiction of my country to illegally engage in production activities, refuses to obey the stopping order or refuses to accept boarding or inspection in other ways, and the use of other measures is not sufficient to stop the illegal act.

第四十八条 有下列情形之一,海警机构工作人员除可以使用手持武器外,还可以使用舰载或者机载武器:




Article 48: In one of the following situations, the staff of the maritime police agency may use not only hand-held weapons, but also ship-borne or airborne weapons:

(1) Performing maritime anti-terrorism missions;

(2) Dealing with serious incidents of violence at sea;

(3) Law enforcement ships or aircraft are attacked by weapons or other dangerous methods.

第七十四条 海警机构工作人员在执行职务中,有下列行为之一,按照中央军事委员会的有关规定给予处分:










Article 74  In the performance of their duties, the staff of the maritime police agency commits one of the following acts, and shall be punished in accordance with the relevant regulations of the Central Military Commission:

(1) Disclosing state secrets, commercial secrets and personal privacy;

(2) Falsifying, concealing the facts of the case, shielding or condoning illegal and criminal activities;

(3) Extorting a confession by torture, or corporal punishment, or maltreatment of suspects in violation of law;

(4) Using police equipment or weapons in violation of regulations;

(5) Illegal deprivation or restriction of personal freedom, illegal inspection or search of persons, goods, articles, vehicles, residences or places;

(6) Extortion, soliciting or accepting bribes, or accepting a treat or gift from the parties and their agents;

(7) Illegal implementation of administrative penalties, administrative compulsion, criminal compulsory measures or collection of fees;

(8) Dereliction of duty and failure to perform legal obligations;

(9) Other violations of law and discipline.

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