New Map: Chinese Power Projection Capabilities in the South China Sea
Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative
October 13, 2017
Since 2014, China has substantially expanded its ability to monitor and project power throughout the South China Sea via the construction of dual civilian-military bases at its outposts in the disputed Spratly and Paracel Islands. These include new radar and communications arrays, airstrips and hangars to accommodate combat aircraft, shelters likely meant to house missile platforms, and deployments of mobile surface-to-air and anti-ship cruise missile systemsat Woody Island in the Paracels.
How these capabilities overlap is highlighted in the map above. For illustrative purposes, the ranges of known high frequency radar installations are depicted as being 300 kilometers, while those of smaller arrays are shown as 50 kilometers. Combat radii for fighter aircraft are shown based on China’s J-10 fighters, which have been deployed previously to Woody Island. Similarly, SAM and cruise missile ranges are based on the HQ-9 and YJ-62 systems that have been deployed to Woody Island. For the bases at Fiery Cross, Mischief, and Subi Reefs, fighter and missile ranges represent expected future deployments based on the hangars and shelters built to accommodate those assets.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is a bipartisan, nonprofit organization founded in 1962 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. It seeks to advance global security and prosperity by providing strategic insights and policy solutions to decision makers.
CSIS posted an October report called “U.S. Economic Strategy in the Asia South Pacific”.
It was updated from one produced in January 2017 after several intensive meetings and discussions on the quickly changing political and economic situations there. The current situation with North Korea isn’t the only stress point, nor is it effecting commerce and sovereign territorial rights like China’s manipulations and island building into the ocean areas there.
At the center of the report is the understanding that the US has critical economic and strategic interest in the Asia South Pacific region that have to be carefully considered and handled. We withdrew from TPP; but as I posted earlier this month, TPP isn’t the only agreement pending which affects internet, economic interests, or other concerns. TPP, TiSA and current Asian negotiations all effect our commercial, communication, and economic interests in the area.
While we are embroiled in all things national, we have to also keep a wary eye on the goings on around the world. Trump’s de-certification of the Iran deal and North Korea’s childish behavior for attention along with the TPP have all created an uneasy and highly tense situation in the Middle and Far Eastern areas. As the map shows the Asia-Pacific area encompasses several US base locations, territorial claims, and allies with whom we have long-standing agreements.