Chinese military officials and civilian shipping companies had a meeting in Shanghai, China on early in June and just covered by China Military Online.
The purpose of the meeting is to “enable China to convert the considerable potential of its civilian fleet into military strength and for Chinese officials to train civilians on the “Technical Standards for New Civilian ships to Implement National Defense Requirements.”
China’s orders cover five categories of vessels: containers, roll-on/ roll-off, multipurpose, bulk carrier and break bulk, China Classification Society (CCS) said in a statement reported by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Daily.
Technical Standards stipulate performance and design requirements for newly-built civilian ships so that they will “meet national defense requirements.” The Technical Standards, passed in March to little fanfare, are part of China’s strategy for incorporating civilian vessels into military operations.
The implementation of this military standards for civilian ships makes it possible for China to turn the great potential of its civilian ships quickly into military strength for national defense and will considerably enhance the PLA’s strategic projection capability and maritime support capability.
The Technical Standards are designed to make sure civilian ships are ready in times of crisis, should the PLAN need to press them into service. But as Andrew Erickson and Conor Kennedy reported previously for the Wall Street Journal, China already has a thriving maritime militia that uses civilian vessels (mostly fishing vessels) “as Beijing’s first line of surveillance, support and pressure in promoting the country’s claims and interests in East and South China seas.”