Just as Beijing justified using ‘white hulls’ to counter the Philippine ‘grey hull’ enforcement in the Scarborough Shoal back in April 2012, China may make use of this ship as a tactical symbol against American warships. After all, the Chinese Communist Party’s daily in July 2015 boasted about how the ship “has the power to smash into a vessel weighing more than 20,000 tons and will not cause any damage to itself when confronting a vessel weighing under 9000 tons. It can also destroy a 5,000 ton ship and sink it to the sea floor.” Seen in this light, Haijing 3901 becomes a concern looming over the stability of the South China Sea.
Koh Swee Lean Collin is associate research fellow at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, a constituent unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies based in Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He can be reached at [email protected].
Image: Wikimedia Commons/Arrorro.