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China building satellite constellation to monitor all of the South China Sea in further challenge to U.S. Navy supremacy

The Chinese military is beginning to deploy a constellation of satellites that will monitor the vast waters of the South China Sea as Beijing moves to expand its control over one of the world’s most lucrative shipping lanes.

As Bloomberg reports, citing Chinese state media, the first of 10 new satellites is scheduled for launch during the second half of next year. China News, which first reported the upcoming launch, cited the Sanya Institute of Remote Sensing, the project lead which is being sponsored by the government of Hainan, China’s southernmost island province.

While China claims all of the South China Sea, several other Asian countries have rival territorial claims. Also, most other countries recognize the vast majority of the South China Sea as international waters.

Bloomberg noted that the satellites will be equipped with cameras and identification technology that allow Beijing to monitor ships moving through the waters, according to the Chinese state media report. Plans to build the constellation were announced in December.

The Chinese government claims more than 80 percent of the body of water, which is rich in fishing and believed to hold vast mineral and fossil fuel deposits. Some $3.4 trillion worth of trade passes through the SCS annually.

Five other countries including Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines, all claim a portion of the same maritime area. China and Vietnam fought a brief war in 1979 after Chinese troops invaded as a punitive measure resulting from a long-standing border dispute.

“The Chinese seem to have moved very fast on this,” said Collin Koh Swee Lean, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, Bloomberg reported.

“Couching all this under an ostensibly civilian-looking program that has numerous military and maritime law enforcement applications has far-reaching strategic ramifications for the South China Sea disputes,” he continued.



Analysis: When the Chinese began dredging atolls near the Spratly Islands in the SCS to construct man-made islands several years ago, few grasped the scope of Beijing’s ambitions regarding this highly valuable body of water. China’s intentions became much clearer when it began building mostly military infrastructure on the islands and then fortifying them with radars, surface-to-air missiles, and runways for fighter jets and bombers.

The investment in a constellation of advanced satellites should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that Beijing not only intends to dominate the SCS but control it. That, of course, puts Beijing on a collision course with the United States and our allies in the region including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Australia — and to another extent the Philippines and Vietnam and even India. 

While the U.S. Navy is more than a match for the Chinese navy at present, the latter is rapidly modernizing and posing a greater threat than at any time in modern history. What’s more, China’s new satellite constellation, however, should provide Beijing with tactical advantages it does not currently possess,perhaps even giving the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) the ability to keep American warships at bay should President Xi Jinping move against territorial designs on Taiwan and other holdings by other nations elsewhere in Asia. Certainly, the constellation will allow the PLAN to better track American and allied warships if it works as advertised.

China’s space-based military assets are rapidly expanding. It will become more challenging for the U.S. to operate in this highly contested body of water very soon.


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9 Comments on China building satellite constellation to monitor all of the South China Sea in further challenge to U.S. Navy supremacy

  1. “Beijing on a collision course with the United States and our allies “IN THE REGION” including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Australia”

    With the US being a few 1000 miles over there and Australia being a few 1000 miles down there.
    But China who is ON the south CHINA sea is the aggressive one!
    Right, got it.
    Am NOT defending China but let’s cut the BS in world politics please.

    • usafeaturesmedia // August 19, 2018 at 5:25 pm // Reply

      The entirety of the South China Sea is more than 1,000 miles from China’s shores. Other nations call parts of the sea by a different name. Surely you’re not suggesting the Chinese should rule over an international body of water that has never belonged to anyone just because they build a couple of islands in the middle of it, are you? If so, what is your justification? Nobody owns ‘international waters.’

    • Sure, put your head in the sand! What part of “controlling the shipping lane that accounts for some 70% of the WORLD’S ocean going freight” do you not understand? Idiot.

    • What BS in world politics? Don’t you understand that some 70% of the WORLD’s ocean going freight goes through that area? And you would let the commies control the world’s economy because you think they are the good guys?

  2. Would seem to me that with ASEAN pressure on China, there should be a move to change the name of the area to the “South Asian Sea” or something less directly tied to China. That would be a direct punch to their face and give them notice that they face world force against their aggression.

  3. I think you have both misunderstood my point. But maybe I read more about the world and all the demonising that goes on than you do.
    1. I already said I am not defending China, I don’t particularly like a lot of things they do as a culture which is why I would not visit and spend my money there, I try not to buy Chinese products but it is virtually impossible especially since our so called leaders in north America and Europe sold out our own people and exported our jobs to China to please the elite corporations of the cabal.
    2. China is not stupid, they would not disrupt the very trade they depend on to keep them going, it is going to slow down anyway as Chinese wages and costs rise and so those jobs will now be sent elsewhere to other sweatshop countries. They need all the trade they can get. China is not prone to histrionics like western leaders are and their idiotic gung ho talk.
    3. The thing that irked me was the title of the article “China to challenge US naval superiority!”
    And? Is that a crime? The world always changes, that’s the only fact. My country the UK controlled the seas for a 100 years or more and basically charged other nations fro using the seas for trade. Britain got very very rich from this gangsterism. Was it right? No of course it
    wasn’t.
    If you want peace and diplomacy then stop shouting all the time that the US has somehow received a God given right to tell any region of the world what they can and can’t do.
    Yes I understand the Malacca Straits issue and sea lanes have to be kept open.
    I am saying that China’s constellation system won’t result in closed sea lanes. Why would they do that and cut their own throat?

    Stop looking for enemies everywhere and inventing situations based on military officers giving statements to the house.
    Haven’t you got yourself into enough wars based on lies already?

    Gulf of Tonkin anybody? Even after the admission 50 years later, not ONE person charged with any crime over that monstrous lie. 58,000 Americans dead, hundreds of thousands of lives ruined. Over 2 million Vietnamese dead.
    Stop believing ever comment you hear from the pentagon is for your interest and safety, it’s about preserving THEIR status and power and that of the corporations that control them.

    I comment was all about a reality check and keeping calm.
    And you call me an idiot? LOL

    • usafeaturesmedia // August 20, 2018 at 8:58 am // Reply

      Understood, and certainly meant no offense to you. Thanks for stopping by and reading.

      It’s not that the U.S. has a ‘god given right’ to tell other countries how to live, nor was that the purpose of the report and analysis. China is a revisionist power; China wants to change the current status of U.S. dominance around the world, not just Asia — though clearly they are focusing more on their ‘neighborhood’ for the moment. So, in order to change the status quo, that will mean challenging — directly, at some point — U.S. dominance. As Americans, that concerns us.

      It should also be noted that when revisionist powers rise there is a 70 percent likelihood of global conflict. That, too, should be concerning for everyone on the planet in the age of nuclear weapons.

      Third, China most certainly does want to control sea lanes vital to global trade. It’s not that China wants to *close* that route, but merely to *control* those routes (perhaps much like the British did a few centuries ago, as you noted). That helps explain, partly, why they are expanding out into the South China Sea, though that expansion (island-building) has strategic value as well.

      Add in China’s Belt-and-Road initiative and that will help explain how Beijing is working to circumvent any negative trade/economic fallout from a conflict with the U.S.

      China’s in this for the long haul. We should never forget that. Any shifts in the strategic balance are noteworthy.

      Thanks for reading us!

  4. Thanks for your views and no hard feelings.
    Sometimes I write quicker than I intend and miss points that would clarify my thoughts in posts.
    I understand what you are saying and I agree that China plays a long game.

    I was chatting to a Chinese businessman a few years ago at London Heathrow airport.
    He was talking about the historical enmity between China and Japan and how the boot has usually been put onto China by outsiders.

    Then he said, “Give it another 20 years and we will show the world what China can do and who is boss!!”
    He had a far off look inn his eye…..gave me the shivers actually!!

    • usafeaturesmedia // August 20, 2018 at 10:01 am // Reply

      No hard feelings at all. We appreciate the discussion!

      China has a ways to go but they are certainly making a lot of progress in terms of advancing their economic, military, and diplomatic power. Beijing’s first ‘concern’ most likely is Taiwan.

      Interesting perspective from a Chinese businessman, for sure.

      Thanks again for reading us.

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