Abstract

With fishery incidents emerging as a major threat to peace and stability in the South China Sea, a better understanding of the underlying causes of these incidents becomes important. Mainstream media, and a substantial body of academic literature, attribute these fishing incidents, and the growing presence of Chinese fishermen in the South China Sea, to China's strategic and political motives, claiming that these fishermen are actually fishing militia. Through revisiting the prevailing fishing militia narrative, this article argues that much wider economic and social factors are at work domestically in China, and that the international and regional scenes are more complex than the picture painted by purely viewing developments with China's fishing militia in isolation. This article also makes the case that fishing disputes in the South China Sea have been heavily securitized with profound implications for the ongoing territorial and jurisdictional disputes in those waters.

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