The Chinese Ministry of Transport has raised the security level for Chinese-flagged vessels transiting the the Strait of Malacca to MARSEC Level 3 — the highest threat level.
“All relevant international shipping companies shall immediately upgrade the relevant ship security level in accordance with the requirements of this notice, and implement the security plan requirements and take corresponding security measures,” the ministry said.
As the main shipping channel between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, the Strait of Malacca is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, so the Chinese action is of broad international concern.
U.K. based security consultancy Dryad Global, calls the Chinese action “unexpected, particularly as the regional dynamics within and surrounding the Malacca Strait are stable.”
Dryad says that sources have indicated that China may have raised threat levels due to a specific threat of criminality, linked to cargo theft, “but there is no indication that this poses a wider threat to commercial vessels.”
Dryad says it currently assesses that there are no regional narratives or emerging threats which would support the Chinese decision and that it is likely that China is reacting to a specific threat known only to China.
The consultancy says it is “currently content to recommend that we do no believe that MARSEC Level 3 is a necessary requirement for other vessels transiting the Strait of Malacca.”