At least a slice of Latin American geopolitical observers are on board with the idea that the Communist Chinese government uses the vast Chinese fishing fleet as a geostrategic weapon and that this is a danger not just to local fishing industries around the world, but to sovereignty and the environment. The accompanying references from Latin America were chosen because they appear to represent converging opinion from several countries of the region. The first, most recent reference, from the PanamPost, citing US government sources, Oceana, the Guardian, Epoch Times, NBC and others, makes a sweeping accusation of Chinese international trespassing, piracy and environmental criminality. The second reference is from an online journalists’ co-op, Cuatro Pelagatos, centered in Ecuador. It was published in late July and takes an alarmed tone. Ecuadorans take great pride in their stewardship of the Galapagos Islands and they are reasonably worried that the huge industrial fishing fleet might not fully respect Ecuadoran sovereignty, much less the zone’s environmental pristineness. The Cuatro Pelegatos authors note that the fishing fleet is used for more than fishing, but also as an instrument of strategic coercion. The third reference came out independently at almost the same time. It is from Infobae, a major online news network out of Argentina. The Infobae analysis is more global.

The prompt for their article was not the felt imposition of the fleet in the eastern Pacific, but rather news that an even larger Chinese fishing fleet was dominating North Korean waters and pushing North Korean vessels out. The Infobae piece brings up a macabre angle—hundreds of fishing boats with dead Koreans have been washing up on Japanese shores. The article suggests that this aggression from the Chinese fleet along with North Korean weakness are the principle drivers of the phenomenon. The last reference is from Mexico. The article is of a worry expressed from the Mexican fishing industry.

…The boats turn off their radars and locator systems in order to avoid detection, which suggests illicit activity…

Source: “Piratas chinos se dirigen a Chile: arrasan con la pesca legal y los recursos marítimos (Chinese pirates go towards Chile: devastates legal fishing and maritime resources),” PanamPost, 2 October 2020. https://panampost.com/sabrina-martin/2020/10/02/piratas-chinos-sedirigen-a-chile-arrasan-con-la-pesca-legal-y-los-recursos-maritimos/

At least 340 clandestine boats of Chinese origin arrived in the Pacific to plunder its maritime resources, violating international norms. The boats turn off their radars and locator systems in order to avoid detection, which suggests illicit activity by what would be this parallel navy of the Chinese regime…They do not respect borders…

…one of the silent wars that is most costly to nature…

Source: Los chinos, los nuevos piratas de los mares (The Chinese, the new pirates of the sea),” Cuatro Pelagatos, 27 July 2020. https://4pelagatos.com/2020/07/27/los-chinos-los-nuevos-piratas-de-los-mares/

China, the postmodern pirate: China has 260 boats in the waters near the Galapagos Islands. It is a looting point for the largest fleet in the world, that is carrying out one of the silent wars that is most costly to nature: the war on illegal fishery…

China doesn’t just fish: it destroys ecosystems that took thousands of years to form…This is an activity of the Chinese State. In fact, the authorities in Peking consider their fleet of fishing boats as an instrument of expansion and presence in disputed maritime zones…

A navy far superior to what was imagined: The report of ODI (High Seas Development Institute) states that the fishing fleets in waters distant from China are 5 to 8 times larger than expected. Of 16,966 boats identified, 12, 490 have been seen outside Chinese international waters.

Their ownership and control is not transparent…

No one knows its size exactly, but it is monumental…

[It is] an invention of the Chinese Communist government…

The Chinese fishing fleet developed thanks to a state subsidy of more than a billion dollars a year…The price of calamari doesn’t come close to the cost of the fuel needed to catch it…

Fishing fleet and paramilitary fleet…From North Korea to Mexico, Indonesia and South America, the incursions of the Chinese fishing boats are increasingly more frequent, shameless and aggressive. It is easy to imagine how an apparently civil confrontation could change into a military conflict…

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