|A straight line can be drawn from The Spratlys to Lombok suggesting that the placement of Chinese radar on these sites is intended to create an array aimed at incoming US assets |
Copyright Ganesh Sahathevan 2016
by Ganesh Sahathevan
The Wall Street Journal has just reported that China Appears to Have Built Radar Facilities on Disputed South China Sea Islands(see story below)
In 2012 IHS reported that China had offered to build Indonesia a radar network " that will have sites in Lombok, the Sunda Strait, western Borneo and the south-west coast of Sulawesi."
As the illustrated on the Google Earth map above , one can draw s straight line from The Spratlys to Lombok. western Borneo and the south-west coast of Sulawesi lie in between.
It does seem as is China intends or has already in place a radar array,clearly aimed at American military and civilian assets.
This image shows why the Port of Darwin is an important part of that network.
CHUN HAN WONGUpdated Feb. 22, 2016 10:49 p.m. ET
BEIJING—Fresh satellite imagery suggests that China has been building radar facilities on some of the artificial islands it built in the South China Sea, in a move that would improve its military power in the region, a U.S.-based think tank said Tuesday.
The report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the radar installations in the Spratly Islands comes days after U.S. and Taiwanese officials said Beijing had placed surface-to-air missiles on the Paracels chain, north of the Spratlys. The deployment prompted comments from Washington that China appears to be militarizing a region already racked by territorial tensions.
The report also coincided with the start of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s three-day visit to the U.S., where he is expected to discuss the South China Sea disputes and North Korea’s nuclear program, among other issues.
In its report, Washington-based CSIS said China’s new radar installations in the Spratlys “could significantly change the operational landscape in the South China Sea.”
Citing satellite imagery dated between late January and mid-February, CSIS said China appeared to have installed radar towers on four artificial islands in the Spratlys that Beijing steadily expanded over the last two years through land reclamation.
The South China Sea Dispute
Most of the radar facilities appear to have been built in “the latter half of 2015, and a few are still under construction,” said Greg Poling, director of CSIS’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative. It wasn’t clear if any of the facilities are in operation, he added.
The radar facilities would “significantly bolster China’s ability to monitor surface and air traffic across the southern portion of the South China Sea,” CSIS said. Along with Beijing’s construction of new runways and air-defense capabilities in the area, they “speak to a long-term anti-access strategy by China—one that would see it establish effective control over the sea and airspace throughout the South China Sea,” the think tank said.
Neither China’s foreign and defense ministries nor the U.S. Embassy in Beijing immediately responded to requests for comment.
China’s construction work on the Spratlys has been at the center of an escalating spat between Beijing and Washington since last year. U.S. officials say Beijing is militarizing the region as a way to bolster its maritime claims, while China has defended its work as defensive and legitimate acts.
In comments made before the CSIS report’s publication, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China “conducts construction on relevant islands and reefs mainly for civilian purposes.”
China’s “deployment of limited defense facilities on its own territory is an exercise of rights to self-defense that a sovereign state is entitled to under international law,” Ms. Hua said Monday at a regular news briefing. “The issue of the South China Sea is not and should not become an issue between China and the U.S.”
The two sides exchanged familiar barbs over the past week over the Chinese missile deployment on Woody Island, a part of the Paracels and home to a large airfield that has hosted drills by Chinese fighter jets.
U.S. officials said the Chinese appeared to be going back on President Xi Jinping’s pledge, made while visiting the White House last year, to refrain from militarizing man-made islands in the South China Sea.
Chinese officials countered by saying the U.S. were responsible for militarizing the region when it started testing China’s posture late last year with military patrols near islands controlled by Beijing.
Analysts say the missiles by themselves pose little threat to the balance of power in the South China Sea, where six governments have overlapping territorial claims. China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia have for decades stationed military hardware and personnel on the islands and reefs they control. U.S. warships and surveillance aircraft also pass through the area regularly.