Chinese floating surveillance platforms. Image credited by H.I. Sutton.

International news media Forbes bared that China has been building surveillance platforms across the West Philippine Sea. “This is controversial, not least the dual-use military context of the network. While ostensibly civilian, these can be viewed as part of the Chinese Navy’s (PLAN) efforts to control the region,” said Forbes contributor H.I. Sutton.

“This reinforces China’s strategic advantage over other countries in the region and can be used to monitor US Navy movements,” Sutton added. He explained that the platforms carry a “range of sensors and communications” and “rarely need maintenance.” The surveillance system covers even the bases in the Paracel Islands, Kalayaan (Spratly) Islands, and the unoccupied Bombay Reef.

The West Philippine Sea has been the target of territorial claims among the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan, and China. China claims nearly the entire area, including the de facto territories claimed by other countries, using the ambiguous nine-dash line rule.

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