Peter Dutton

Peter Dutton

Peter Dutton is the director of China Maritime Studies Institute, US Naval War College.

China doesn’t have the capability for sea control
The premise that China has the capability to control the South China Sea in all circumstances short of war with the United States is dubious. The South China Sea is 1.351 million square miles in size, not including the Gulf of Thailand. It is about 1.4 times the size of the Mediterranean. To patrol this vast space, China has 125 coast guard vessels over 1,000 tons and 84 maritime militia operating out of Sansha city. That’s 209 vessels, not including the navy. And since we’re talking about circumstances short of war, it seems reasonable to exclude the Chinese navy in this case: that’s one vessel for every 6,464 square miles. Even if we say there are a few hundred additional part-time militia