The leadership of China's coast guard will be transferred from oceanic authorities to the country's army beginning July 1, a move that analyst say will enable it to play a bigger role in emergencies and crises including war.
A marine police corps under the Chinese People's Armed Police Force will be established to guard China's marine rights and function as a law enforcement body, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The decision was adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, on Friday. The coast guard was previously administrated by the State Oceanic Administration.
The change will put the coast guard under the direct administration of China's Central Military Commission (CMC), enabling the China Coast Guard (CCG) to be more involved in military drills and daily exercises with People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Sunday.
The coast guard can cooperate more efficiently with the PLA Navy when involved in emergencies and war, Song added.
The coast guard will be responsible for fighting criminal maritime activities, search and rescue, and enforcing laws including maritime resource exploration, environmental protection, fishery management and anti-smuggling efforts, Xinhua reported.
Coast guard ships would be armed with more powerful small diameter cannons instead of water cannon, Song said. Under the leadership of the CMC, ship crews could also be authorized to carry fire arms, he said.
A coordination mechanism will be established among the CCG, public security bureaus and relevant administrative departments, said Xinhua.
China's coast guard will not pose a threat to countries including Japan as long as they don't provoke China's sovereignty and maritime rights, Song noted.
Newspaper headline: Coast guard to be led by military