17 February 2018
China could be turning an artificial island in contested South China Sea waters into an intelligence hub as it seeks to exert control over the region, according to a Washington-based think tank.
The CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative said the northeastern corner of Fiery Cross Reef was now equipped with a communications or sensor array bigger than those found on other artificial islands in the Spratlys.
Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said Fiery Cross was a base for activities across the other Chinese-occupied features in the Spratly area.
“[The base] allows you to reach out as far as possible across features, including even non-Chinese occupied features. That’s important as well,” he said.
Koh said the massive construction programme meant China was keen to have a firm grip over the area.
“It demonstrates to the international community, especially to external power such as the US, that China is keen to exercise effective administrative control in the area,” he said.
“The only way to justify your claim to an area is through effective control … Putting these on the ground … tells everybody that it is there to stay, it is not going to leave.”
IDSS / Online / Print
Last updated on 20/02/2018