South China Sea: Beijing tracking other countries with satellites and underwater systems

China: Expert discusses 'underwater systems' put in place

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China has been building a series of surveillance platforms spanning parts of the South China Sea. Many of the radars are floating in Chinese water but some are in international waters. Associate Fellow at the Asia-Pacific Programme at Chatham House Bill Hayton told “Over the past few years, China has put in place a whole load of systems; satellite, radar, and underwater systems to try and observe what’s going on in the South China Sea.

“Obviously they built these seven new artificial islands on coral reefs in the Spratly Islands and that adds to other things they’ve built elsewhere.

“That gives them a pretty good view of what’s happening around them and even over the horizon.

“This allows them to send ships whether they be Navy or coastguard ships or militia to stop things they don’t like.

“For example, to stop other countries fishing or monitor warships from other countries passing through.”

It comes as satellite imagery service Orion mapped the surveillance gear which they say “reinforces China’s strategic advantage over other countries in the region, and can be used to monitor US Navy movements”.

Research by CSIS Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative found that the surveillance platforms are part of China’s “Blue Ocean Information Network”.

The platforms are installed with electro-optical/infrared sensor turrets, high-frequency radio and cellular masts, according to Forbes.

Situated close to the Paracel and Spratly Island, they will increase China’s radar coverage of the South China Sea.

Chinese military ‘live-fire exercise’ in South China Sea in May

China currently monitors vessels with multiple sensors deployed at depths of up to 2,000 meters below sea level named the “Underwater Great Wall”.

It comes as the Philippines lodged a diplomatic protest over what it said was China’s illegal confiscation of fish aggregating devices from Filipino fishermen in a disputed lagoon held by Beijing in the South China Sea.

The Philippine foreign ministry said the incident happened three months ago at the Scarborough Shoal, a prime fishing site seized by Beijing in 2012 after a standoff that prompted an unprecedented international legal challenge by Manila.

In a statement, it gave no other details about that incident, but it also protested China’s “continuing illicit issuances of radio challenges to Philippine aircraft conducting legitimate regular maritime patrols.”


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China’s coast guard routinely warns foreign planes and vessels passing through and over international waters.

The Philippine protest comes amid concern in the region and by the United States and allies about what they see as provocative Chinese activities and military exercises in contested parts of the strategic waterway.

Vietnam on Thursday complained about the presence of Chinese bombers on the Paracel Islands.

China claims historic ownership of most of the South China Sea using old maps that it says are proof of sovereignty.

Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan also have claims.

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