China has a long history of enlisting civilian shipping for military purposes. In recent years the PLA has invested heavily in supporting the construction of new large ro-ro ferries and ro-ro pure car and truck carriers (PCTC) to ensure they can carry militarily useful cargoes.Here.
On 18 June China Daily reported that the PLA Nanjing Military Command (opposite Taiwan) and the Shanghai Specifications Institute had spent five years devising new specifications "that require all civilian shipbuilders to ensure that their new vessels are suitable for military use in an emergency".
This is reflected in military mobility exercises. For example, in July PLA media reported a Nanjing Military Region Army mobility exercise featuring a ro-ro inland barge transporting about 10 ZBD86D infantry fighting vehicles and ZSD89 armoured personnel carriers.
The vehicles were offloaded at sea from a larger civilian transport dock, indicating the PLA may plan to assemble groups of larger civilian vessels that carry military vehicles at a waypoint, for carriage to shore by self-propelled barges.
Janes buried the lead on this. Yeah the idea of using barges to transport the landing force is noteworthy, but even more stunning is the idea that the Chinese are openly admitting that their civilian ships are to be used for military operations.
How do you sort all the ships in the Pacific?
How do you determine friend from foe if hostilities begin...how do you know that civilian ship you've spotted is carrying Nike shoes and not YJ-10 missiles that could hazard your fleet?
The common sense solution would be to declare no go areas and sink any ship that enters the zone. We're headed toward unrestricted naval combat if war with China comes.