[an error occurred while processing this directive]
    Home>> Cover stories

Power at sea marred by departmental disunity

http://english.hebei.com.cn  2012-12-05 10:50

  China's marine management agencies are struggling to adapt to new maritime strategies and in dire need of comprehensive reform, reports China Newsweek.

  The problem mainly stems from an unclear division of departmental responsibilities, says Liu Nan, who works for the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague and is a member of the honor committee at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

  Unlike many developed countries such as the United States and Japan, China does not have an independent department that administers all marine-related programs such as transportation and national defense, Liu says.

  The country's five maritime law enforcement agencies cannot even be described as a collaborative group, he adds.

  Though they form a fairly large contingent of personnel engaged in maritime law enforcement, the State Oceanic Administration, the Bureau of Fisheries, the Bureau of Maritime Affairs, the Anti-Smuggling Bureau and the China Coast Guard each have their own limited powers, and they have no power over one another, notes China Newsweek.

  When China Marine Surveillance was established under the State Oceanic Administration in 1998, many people thought it would be the first department to play a comprehensive role in maritime law enforcement, but this was not the case.

  Even now, if a patrol vessel from China Marine Surveillance encounters a fishing boat that needs help, it has to sail back and inform the Bureau of Maritime Affairs. Only then can the bureau deploy search and rescue vessels.

  Such a division of sea power is unscientific, as the separate powers are only extensions of different departments on land, says Liu Nan.

  Under the circumstances, maritime work can be hard to carry out, because various departments may fail to reach an agreement upon negotiations, says Xu Sen'an, a senior researcher with the State Oceanic Administration.

  If the Ministry of Communications wants to build a navigation channel while the Ministry of Agriculture wants to build a fishing port along the same stretch of coastal zone, there can be problems, Xu says. If negotiations fail, the two agencies may stick to their own plans and try to avoid friction during the construction process.

  According to statistics from the border defense force of south China's Guangdong Province, local maritime law enforcement agencies had constructed more than 170 wharfs by the end of 2009: 25 were built by border defense departments, 78 by fishery departments, 18 by anti-smuggling departments and over 50 by maritime affairs departments.

  This resembled an "enclosure movement," which resulted in a squandering of money and a waste of resources, says Xu. Each of the wharfs cost at least 30 million yuan (US$4.8 million), and the building of fleets for each department also required tens of millions.

  Yet some departments don't need large fleets; the workload of fishery departments is quite flexible and uncertain, for example, so they can set aside part of the government funding for possible tasks in the future, Xu says.

  Zhang Huazhong, director of the Sanya Marine and Fishery Bureau, says cooperation between maritime law enforcement departments is ineffective, and that the departments will often use all kinds of excuses to avoid participation.

  This management model has also affected legislation work concerning maritime matters, as many of the terms do not specify the authorities in charge, says Liu Nan.

  Though China has adopted many maritime-related laws (such as the Law of the People's Republic of China on Its Territorial Seas and Adjacent Zones, the Marine Environmental Protection Law of the People's Republic of China, and the Fisheries Law of the People's Republic of China), the country still lacks a fundamental law that provides a comprehensive legal framework for the management of China's marine areas.

  The government should shore up the powers of every department that plays a role in maritime law enforcement and set up a coordinating body to preside over all of them, suggests Liu Nan.

  In a report to the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, President Hu Jintao called for more efforts to build China's maritime power in order to strengthen its capacity to exploit marine resources and resolutely safeguard China's maritime rights and interests.

打印 收藏本页
[an error occurred while processing this directive]