China using civilian ships to enhance navy capability, reach

  • Chinese fishing boats gather near the South Korea’s western Yeonpyong Island, near the disputed sea border with communist North Korea on May 30, 2009. A Chinese scientific ship bristling with surveillance equipment docked in a Sri Lankan port. Hundreds of fishing boats anchored for months at a time among disputed islands in the South China Sea. And ocean-going ferries, built to be capable of carrying heavy vehicles and large loads of people. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

  • Foreign vessels, some with Chinese flags, fish near Torishima, Japan, on Oct. 31, 2014. (Kyodo News /via AP)

BANGKOK — A Chinese scientific ship bristling with surveillance equipment docked in a Sri Lankan port. Hundreds of fishing boats anchored for months at a time among disputed islands in the South China Sea. And ocean-going ferries, built to be capable of carrying heavy vehicles and large loads of people.