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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, August 21, 2018

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Asia Pacific vows marine retort as ‘bully’ China approves plans for underwater spy network

In disputed South China Sea

Share on Facebook June 1, 2017, Reporter : BNN, Reader : 628

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BEIJING, China - In a bid to further establish its dominance in the disputed resource-rich, China on Wednesday said that it has approved a plan to build an underwater observation network across the disputed East and South China seas.> BNN
 
The action came as another provocative move by China, that claims dominance over most of the resource-rich waters, even though five other Pacific nations including Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have territorial claims in the disputed waters.
 
The  South China Sea is believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas and witnesses over $5 trillion in global ship-borne trade passing by each year.
China’s state run Global Times quoted a report by the official China Central Television (CCTV) as saying that the country would be investing two billion yuan ($292 million) to build the network.
 
The network, the report said will be capable of all-weather and real time HD multi-interface observation from seabed to surface. 
China also claims its sovereignty over the Senkaku islands held by Japan, along with all of South China Sea (SCS). 
 
While the hotly contested territorial disputes carry on in both the seas - Beijing has drawn harsh criticism from the five other claimants for its militarization of the disputed waters, after it built man-made islands and reefs to establish its control in the region. 
 
Now, the CCTV report stated that the underwater observation network will serve as a scientific research platform which can provide long-term and continuous data to research on the marine environment under the two seas. 
 
Li Jie, a Beijing-based navy expert, told state run Global Times, “The planned physical platform can help us understand the complicated submarine world and provide a technical basis and the physical conditions for exploration and application of resources under the ocean.” 
 
It said that a data centre will be built in Shanghai near the coast to monitor the observation network and to store and manage the data captured. 
Further, the report pointed out that it can promote frontier research in fields such as earth systems and climate change and meet the country's comprehensive demand to monitor the marine environment, prevent disasters and protect national security and interests. 
 
Jie noted, "However, some foreign countries will link the underwater system with a military facility and exaggerate its military usage given its geographical location.”
 
Adding, “However, if foreign submarines and unmanned underwater vehicles enter Chinese waters, China is obligated to use data gathered from the underwater network to identify, detect or even drive away those vehicles to protect the security.”
 
According to the report, the project is slated to be completed within five years. 
 
Jie adds, "Given China's capability in drilling oil and gas in deep water and the recent progress of the manned submersible Jiaolong, China is technically ready and has the material and financial resources to achieve that goal within five years.” 
 
Chinese official media reported that the Jiaolong descended to 6,544 meters in its third dive this year in the Mariana Trench last week. 
It said that the dives are to collect seawater, rocks and samples of marine life and conduct observation and HD photography near the seabed. 
China - the ‘bully’
 
Meanwhile, U.S. Senator John McCain, who is in Australia for security talks, called for a South China Sea drill to challenge the “bully” nation, China.
In a speech, McCain slammed China for its stand on the South China dispute and said that “the challenge is that China is acting more like a bully” in the Asia-Pacific region.
 
He is said to have pressed on the need for the U.S. and Australia to work together when dealing with economic and strategic issues involving China.
Responding to McCain’s calls, Australian officials said the country would continue to follow "freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight" in accordance with the international laws.
 
The U.S. Senator was quoted in The Australian as saying, “He believed China had been throwing its weight around too much thanks to its development as an economic powerhouse.”
 
McCain was further quoted as saying that nations could come together for a multilateral exercise under the U.S. leadership to resist Chinese advances in the disputed territory. 
 
He said, “If the Chinese are able to stop us exercising freedom of navigation then that has severe consequences for the whole region.”

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