South China Sea – October 2017

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 aircraftshelters 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.


Click here to view the interactive map.


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.



Territorial Claims Map for those like me who are less familiar with the area


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.


About Uriel

Retired educator and constitutionalist
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4 Responses to South China Sea – October 2017

  1. Popular Front says:

    Nice of the Chinese to create some high-value, easily identified targets in a wide open area. The kind that a Tomahawk will gobble up, belch and ask for more.

    A couple of 688s at launch depth on the eastern side of the Philippines will be able to erase them within the first 60 minutes of any future shooting war in that region.

    • Uriel says:

      What do Aussies think of the build up? Yeah those would work.

      • Popular Front says:

        Hi Uriel. We’re suspicious of course but it is not our backyard and there’s not a lot we (or anyone else) could do if it were. The bottom line here is resource exploitation. The Chinese and other nations believe that the South China Sea is rich with oil and natural gas and other resources however this has not been proved by intensive exploration so the Chinese have built their artificial island bases to assert their right to that exploration. No other country in the region can do anything about it except throw some insults in the press and the UN. Assuming that there is oil & gas there the exploitation of it means huge platforms and artificial harbours, more tempting targets for our hungry Tomahawks if things go bad. In my view the PRC have really overreached themselves with this one and nothing in my 30 years service can convince me otherwise.

        • Uriel says:

          Lol. Positive thinking there. I agree. I hope they learned mistakes made by others and do better. My thinking is that is so unstable because of the rim that there could be disastrous results. But I could say the same about most offshore drilling. I do wonder about their more obvious bully tactics. Still like you what will be will be.