September 26, 2019 | AMTI Brief
Signaling Sovereignty: Chinese Patrols at Contested Reefs
China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels have been harassing a drilling rig operating in a Vietnamese oil and gas block near Vanguard Bank, an underwater feature in the South China Sea, since June. Meanwhile, a large contingent of CCG ships have since July been escorting the Chinese state-owned survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 operating off the Vietnamese coast farther north. These actions have drawn attention to the CCG’s increasing role in asserting Chinese claims over seabed resources throughout the South China Sea. They also highlight how the CCG’s access to newly-built port facilities on artificial islands in the Spratlys allows it to sustain such deployments. But less appreciated is the persistent presence the CCG maintains around several symbolically important features in the South China Sea: Luconia Shoals, Second Thomas Shoal, and Scarborough Shoal.