A White Hull Approach to Taming the Dragon: Using the Coast Guard to Counter China

War on the Rocks – It has been deemed the “Era of Coast Guards” in the Asia-Pacific. The U.S. Coast Guard has suggested that the service’s frequent interactions with the Chinese Coast Guard better position it to navigate the “narrow door of diplomacy” in the region than U.S. Navy cruisers and destroyers. Yet despite the growing emphasis on a “white hull” coast guard versus “grey hull” naval approach in the South China Sea, many analysts continue to argue against utilizing the U.S. Coast Guard there. These critics contend that the service would have little if any positive effect on China’s coercive maritime behavior, and even go so far as to say it’s “too little too late” for a white hull answer. Even more ominously, some believe such an approach could accidentally spark war.