The two-day Maritime Station of the ASEAN-India Maritime Exercises (AIME 2023) began on Sunday with the participation of warships and aircraft from India, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Brunei.
According to Indian sources, the navy was in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone when at least five Chinese ships approached it. In the end, the militia boats and warships crossed each other’s paths without any collision, but some of the warships had to change course.
An independent Vietnam expert said he believes Beijing is using the militia to intimidate participating countries and disrupt naval exercises. The warships were accompanied by a research ship solemnly flying the Chinese flag.
These marine militias consist of ships dubbed “commercial fishing vessels” that operate in cooperation with the Chinese authorities to serve political purposes in the South China Sea. The Chinese government denies the militias’ existence.
Van Pham stated that this is not the first time that Chinese “so-called fishing boats” have been near warships and intimidated them from other countries. Many of its coastal neighbors have accused China of harassing and intimidating other countries’ fishing vessels and military vessels in the South China Sea, whether with naval vessels or those used by militias.
Cover image is illustrative. Cover image source: Getty Images
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