China has installed a new platform on a remote part of the Paracel Islands in the disputed South China Sea which could be used for military purposes, according to a US think-tank.
The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative of Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies said satellite images show a “modest new structure” on Bombay Reef, topped by a radome and solar panels, Reuters reports.
“The development is interesting given Bombay Reef’s strategic location, and the possibility that the structure’s rapid deployment could be repeated in other parts of the South China Sea,” the group was quoted as saying in a statement this week.
The purpose of the platform and radome was unclear, but it could be for military use, it said.
“The reef is directly adjacent to the major shipping lanes that run between the Paracels and the Spratly Islands to the south, making it an attractive location for a sensor array to extend Chinese radar or signals intelligence collection over that important sea lane,” the group said.
The strategic waterway is claimed almost in its entirety by China, whose continued building of military and other installations on artificial islands and reefs there has unnerved the region and angered Washington.
The United States earlier this month again urged China to halt militarization of the South China Sea.
China said it has the right to build “necessary defense facilities” on what it considers its own territory and urged Washington to stop sending warships and military planes close to the islands.
– Contact us at [email protected]