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China has “intensified” monitoring of foreign vessels in areas it considers Chinese waters, but which internationally are regarded as open ocean, reports Geostrategy-Direct, the global intelligence information service.

The effort is part of China’s announced goal of extending its sea control further from Chinese shores.

The stepped-up surveillance was announced in a 2003 China Maritime Administrative Law Enforcement Bulletin recently published by the State Bureau of Oceanic Administration.

The U.S. government last year challenged China’s new decree claiming control over a 200-mile economic zone from its coast.

The bulletin said its surveillance ships tracked two U.S. Navy vessels that entered China’s claimed waters without permission.

The ships were identified as the oceanographic survey ship USNS Henson and ocean surveillance ship USNS Victorious.

The report said during 2003, Chinese ships conducted 53 inspections of 13 marine research projects involving foreign ships.

Defense officials said the decree violates international law and high-seas freedom of navigation.

The SOA is part of the Ministry of Land and Resources and the subordinate China Marine Surveillance.

Officials fear Chinese attempts to enforce the control might lead to military confrontations.

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