FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.

posted on 21 February 2016

A Glimpse Into China's Military Presence In The South China Sea


Widely published satellite imagery from Feb. 14 shows the presence of new Chinese air defense systems on Woody Island in the South China Sea, highlighting continuing maritime frictions in the area. But new imagery obtained by Stratfor provides a higher-resolution view of the deployment and activities taking place across the island.

Specialists at AllSource Analysis have identified two batteries of HQ-9 surface-to-air launchers, as well as supporting vehicles such as an engagement radar and the Type 305B AESA acquisition radar. Chinese military personnel are also moving near the air defense batteries, and cables are connecting vehicles and equipment into a single networked system.

China's claim to most of the South China Sea is a persistent source of tension with five Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries that claim land and waters in the sea. (Vietnam contests China's claims to Woody Island, along with the rest of the Paracel Islands.) It also conflicts with the United States' notion of freedom of navigation, though it holds no position on the territorial disputes themselves. To counter China's dominance, the United States has run two active campaigns every quarter since October 2015 in which its naval vessels and aircraft deliberately pass by disputed features that are not considered to provide legitimate maritime claims under international law. China has called these moves destabilizing, and it has used U.S. operations and coalition building in the area to justify deploying defensive arms to its South China Sea possessions.

While these air defense systems provide a notable military capability, their presence on the island does not necessarily reflect a major escalation. They are packed closely together on a sand platform near the waterline in a way that suggests they are either part of a training operation or a conspicuous show of force. The platform was constructed in recent months, with imagery taken in December 2015 showing dredging activity in this location. But the position is not permanent: The sand platform is already deteriorating in some places. The visibility of the deployment raises the possibility that it was intended to send a political message as U.S. President Barack Obama reportedly sought to convince the heads of ASEAN countries to persuade China to accept a ruling from the U.N. Permanent Court of Arbitration on the legal status of 10 land features disputed with the Philippines.

Apart from the air defense systems that were recently uncovered, there is also significant Chinese military activity on other parts of Woody Island. A key feature of the base is its runway, which gives China the ability to send and receive combat aircraft. In November 2015, J-11 fighter jets were reportedly deployed to the base, and while the current imagery does not show these aircraft out in the open, our partners at AllSource Analysis have determined that 16 hangars at several locations along the runway seem to be designed to host fighter aircraft like the J-11. Tire tracks also show that one section of these hangars has been used to host aircraft while the others have not. The imagery can neither rule out nor verify the presence of aircraft inside these hangars, but it does confirm that the air base can host up to 16 of these fighter aircraft out of plain sight.

Finally, several large high-bay drive-through buildings have been constructed in an area that is likely dedicated to the storage of explosive materials or ammunitions. Complex berm structures are being erected along with these buildings to shield them from explosions or to contain explosions that occur within them. These buildings can receive large logistics vehicles carrying ammunition, such as fighter aircraft armaments or air defense missiles, which can then be loaded or offloaded inside the cover of the buildings and exit again on the opposite side. Construction continues in this part of the island, and more berms are likely to be erected over time. Equipment located near the structures also indicates concrete pouring activities.

While the media's response to China's actions on Woody Island suggests that they represent a watershed moment in the militarization of the South China Sea, in reality they are neither surprising nor particularly meaningful. Despite the widespread attention Beijing's deployment has received, it is unlikely to shift the calculations of any country involved in the ongoing maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

"A Glimpse Into China's Military Presence in the South China Sea" is republished with permission of Stratfor.

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical News Post Listing

Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted.  As the internet is a "war zone" of trolls, hackers and spammers - Econintersect must balance its defences against ease of commenting.  We have joined with Livefyre to manage our comment streams.

To comment, using Livefyre just click the "Sign In" button at the top-left corner of the comment box below. You can create a commenting account using your favorite social network such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Open ID - or open a Livefyre account using your email address.

You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.

Econintersect Contributors


Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF

The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.

Take a look at what is going on inside of
Main Home
Analysis Blog
Minsky’s Theory of Asset Prices: Why Minsky Was NOT a Neo-Monetarist
Many (But Not All) Dynamics Improving But Federal Tax Receipts Are Down
News Blog
January 2017 Beige Book: Reading Between The Lines - Little Change in the Rate of Growth
15 Recent Science Discoveries You Wont Believe
December 2016 Industrial Production Up - Now In Expansion
December 2016 CPI: Year-over-Year Inflation Rate Now 2.1%
Advent Of Trade Reporting For U.S. Treasury Securities
Infographic Of The Day: Why Pets Make Us Happy
Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Oil Up, Dollar Down, Obama Issued Fewer Exec. Orders, German Inflation 1.7 Pct, Pound Rally Temporary?, China Prop. Investment Stabilized And More
Democracy - 'End of History', Really?
Preview Of Dirk Ehnts' New Book
Britons Are Very Pessimistic About The EU's Future
Sherlock Holmes And The Strange Case Of Anti-intellectualism
Average Gasoline Prices for Week Ending 16 January 2017 Fell Almost 3 cents
What We Read Today 17 January 2017
Investing Blog Technical Summary 17 January 2017
Apple Takes The Wireless Headphone Market By Storm
Opinion Blog
Trump's 'Great Gambit'
More Proof The MMT's "Jobs Guarantee" Can't Work
Precious Metals Blog
Gold's 2016 Gain Indicates A 19% Surge In 2017
Live Markets
18Jan2017 Market Close: US Stock Markets Closed Mostly Higher, Crude Prices Slipping Further, US Dollar Trending Higher, Yellen Says US Economy Improving
Amazon Books & More

.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government



Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day


Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution



  Top Economics Site Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2017 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved