China using civilian ships to extend military reach, ability: expert

China is reportedly using civilian ships to back up its territorial claims and magnify its military power.  According to experts and officials, the hundreds of fishing boats and ferries that have been anchored for months in the disputed South China Sea help China to perform tasks that would be difficult for its military to carry out.

Gregory Poling, director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, told The Associated Press that the country pays commercial trawlers more than they can make by fishing to drop an anchor there. "China is able to use nominally civilian vessels that are clearly state-directed, state-paid to eat away the sovereignty of its neighbors, but then plausibly deny that the state is responsible," he said.