13 September 2020

People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia (PAFMM)… Now Has a Wikipedia Entry!

People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia,” Wikipedia, entry as of 13 September 2020.

The People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia (PAFMM) is the government funded maritime militia of China[1]. For reportedly operating in the South China Sea without clear identification, they are sometimes referred to as the “little blue men”, a term coined by Andrew S. Erickson of the Naval War College in reference to Russia’s “little green men” during the 2014 annexation of Crimea.[2]

The armed fishing fleet are part of China’s power projection[1], and are deployed to seize territory and to target anyone who challenges China’s claims to the entire South China Sea. In 2016, 230 fishing boats swarmed the same islands[1]. In August 2020, more than 100 fishing boats harassed the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands[1].

Overview [edit]

According to research from the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, China’s maritime militia is part of their “grey zone” tactics which are used to wage conflict against China’s neighbors without crossing the threshold into conventional war.[3]

History [edit]

The PAFMM began soon after the CCP won the Chinese Civil War and forced the KMT to flee the mainland, the newly vicarious communists needed to augment their maritime defenses against the nationalist forces which had repeated offshore and therefore the concept of people’s war was applied to the sea with fishermen and other nautical laborers being drafted into a maritime militia. The nationalists had maintained a maritime militia during their time in power but the communists preferred to craft theirs anew given their suspicion of organizations created by the nationalists. The CCP also instituted a national level maritime militia command to unite the local militias, something the KMT had never done. In the early 1950s, the Bureau of Aquatic Products played a key role in institutionalizing and strengthening the maritime militia as it collectivized local fisheries. Bureau of Aquatic Products leaders were also generally former high ranking PLAN officers which lead to close relations between the organizations. The formation of the PAFMM was influenced by the Soviet “Young School” of military theory which emphasized coastal defense over naval power projection for nascent communist powers.[4]

In the 1960s and 1970s, the PLAN established maritime militia schools near the three main fleet headquarters of QingdaoShanghai, and Guangzhou.[4] Through the first half of the 1970s, the maritime militia mostly stayed near shore and close to China. However, by the later 1970s, the maritime militia had evolved an important sovereignty support function which brought it into increasing conflict with China’s neighbors, especially in the South China Sea. The PAFMM contributed significantly to the Battle of the Paracel Islands, especially in proving amphibious lift capacity to Chinese forces. These early PAFMM successes have led to their use in nearly every maritime operation undertaken by the China Coast Guard and Navy, often harassing vessels from neighboring states.[4]

The maritime militia is believed to be behind a number of incidents in the South China Sea where high powered lasers were pointed at the cockpits of aircraft. This includes an attack against a Royal Australian Navy helicopter.[5]

In 2019, the United States issued a warning to China over aggressive and unsafe action by their Coast Guard and maritime militia.[6]

In August 2020, more than 100 fishing boats harassed the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands[1].

Equipment [edit]

Most vessels are just issued with navigation and communication equipment but some are also issued small arms.[7] The communications systems can be used both for communication and espionage. Often fishermen supply their own vessels, however, there are also core contingents of the maritime militia who operate vessels fitted out for militia work instead of fishing; these vessels feature reinforced bows for ramming and high powered water cannons.[8]

See also [edit]

External Link [edit]

References [edit]

  1. Jump up to:a b c d e Thomas, Jason (2020/9/2). “China’s ‘fishermen’ mercenaries”. The Weekend Australian. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^Jakhar, Pratik (15 April 2019). “Analysis: What’s so fishy about China’s ‘maritime militia’?”. monitoring.bbc.co.uk. BBC Monitoring. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  3. ^“DIPLOMACY: Maritime militia warning issued”. Taipei Times. 16 June 2020. Archived from the original on 17 June 2020. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  4. Jump up to:a b c Grossman, Derek; Ma, Logan (6 April 2020). “A Short History of China’s Fishing Militia and What It May Tell Us”. rand.org. RAND Corporation. Archived from the original on 8 July 2020. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  5. ^Yeo, Mike (31 May 2019). “Testing the waters: China’s maritime militia challenges foreign forces at sea”. Defense News. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  6. ^Sevastopulo, Demetri; Hille, Kathrin (28 April 2019). “US warns China on aggressive acts by fishing boats and coast guard”. Financial Times. Archived from the original on 8 July 2020. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  7. ^Owens, Tess (1 May 2016). “China Is Reportedly Training a ‘Maritime Militia’ to Patrol the Disputed South China Sea”. vice.com. Vice News. Archived from the original on 9 July 2020. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  8. ^Manthorpe, Jonathan (28 April 2019). “Beijing’s maritime militia, the scourge of South China Sea”. Asia Times. Retrieved 9 July 2020.