Less than a week into the new Biden administration, and China is making moves to reassert itself as the dominant power in East Asia. On Friday, the Chinese government issued authorization to its coast guard to attack foreign vessels when Chinese interests are perceived to be infringed upon.
"[The coast guard may] take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea," the new Coast Guard Law proclaimed.
China's coast guard is the largest and strongest of its kind in East Asia, and by giving it authorization to destroy structures belonging to other countries when they are constructed on reefs, islands, or other territory the Chinese claim as their own, greatly increases the odds of an armed crisis in the region.
For instance, the East China Sea islands are controlled by rival Asian power Japan, but Beijing claims them as rightful Chinese territory. Additionally, the communist country maintains that the entire South China Sea belongs to them. Loaded with fish stocks, as well as oil and natural gas deposits, there is great strategic potential in controlling those regions.
China has long wished to supplant the United States as the dominant military force in the Far East. Friday's new law may signal the next step in that effort.