NASER ALMESHARI WRITES – The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) has enhanced the
effectiveness of its potentially potent ‘shadowing’ approach, thanks to absorbing the clever procedures of the Indonesian coast guard.

What is shadowing? It’s a technique to repel foreign intruders entering the waters of the South China Sea by using long-range sound cannons. These sonic cannons can produce sounds at a high power that enable RMN personnel to escort any maritime intruder out of Malaysian waters without risking physical conflict.

China has been reasserting its control over the disputed area to support its historic claim to more than 80% of the South China Sea, leading to conflicts with multiple adjacent nations. In response, Malaysia has been strengthening its national defense at its water borders — but without taking military action against Chinese Coast Guard and maritime vessels that could heat up further tension between the two countries. Instead, RMN has taken the simple precautionary measure of shadowing those vessels to make them aware of Malaysia’s presence. The point of these exercises is to make Chinese authorities aware that Malaysian ships take watchful notice as CCG vessels enter its waters.

Previously, the RMN had joined forces with the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) to respond to challenges in the South China Sea, tailing every China Coast Guard (CCG) vessel that entered its waters. This decision was made following Beijing’s demand for both Indonesia and Malaysia to stop oil and gas exploration in the area. China’s presence in the area has steadily intensified.

Malaysia must act carefully and proactively pursue the shadowing policies to preserve its vital oil and gas commodities and, ultimately, its overall economic stability. Otherwise, China could misinterpret Malaysia’s limited and nonaggressive strategy as permission to claim more areas—and Kuala Lumpur could lose permanent sovereignty over some of its territory. The stakes are high.

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