China Raises Security Warning to Highest Level in Strait of Malacca

July 02: China has raised the security level for its vessels heading through the Strait of Malacca, a key Asian trade route and major oil choke point.

The Chinese Ministry of Transport advised Chinese-flagged ships to take heightened security steps and increased its security warning to MARSEC level three, from 2200 LT on July 2.

Three is the highest security level in Chinese shipping regulations, and one above a warning issued after recent attacks on tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, according to people familiar with the situation, who asked not to be identified discussing government notifications.

Second only to the Strait of Hormuz as a key oil and gas conduit, the Strait of Malacca is a stretch of water passing Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia that connects the Indian and Pacific Oceans and as such, Middle Eastern and African energy supplies to Asian economies.

There was no reason given for the raised alert, and the change has come as a surprise to many. Security consultants Dryad Global have commented that, “There are no significant geopolitical tensions which would link logically with the increased Chinese threat level. Sources have indicated that China may have raised threat levels due to a specific threat of criminality, in this instance linked to cargo theft, but there is no indication that this poses a wider threat to commercial vessels.” [emphasis added]

There were eight reported piracy and armed robbery incidents last year in the Strait of Malacca and near Singapore, according to ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre.

Source: Straits Times & Seatrade Maritime

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