Under The Radar, China Building Its Military And Economic Influence
China’s attempts to reclaim the Spratly Islands is creating tensions in the South China Sea, “not only because it could deter freedom of navigation but also due to its possible military purposes,” General Gregorio Pio Catapang told reporters in Manila on Monday, reports The Strait Times.
Exacerbating the unease among China’s neighbors is the news that two Chinese companies are working on constructing massive, 2 km long floating sea bases that can move around according to need, and conduct a range of military operations.
The plan was uncovered by Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer at Popular Science who caught wind of the proposed project after a press conference earlier this month hosted by construction company Jidong Development Group and Hainan Hai Industrial Company.
The ships would come in three sizes, the duo report. The smallest is 300 meters long followed by another that is 600 meters long, and the biggest about 900 meters long and 120 meters wide. But the bases could actually be much bigger by attaching more semi-submersible hull modules together.
“The goal of such programs is that a mobile floating island could carry many times more aircraft and soldiers than a carrier or amphibious assault group. An additional military advantage to China’s modular floating island design is that its large size and compartmentalized construction would make it very difficult to sink (an opponent would have to strike a large number of the modules to compromise the island’s seaworthiness),” they write.
As it builds its military strength, China also is moving to limit the influence of the U.S. in the region, signing a plan on for energy and infrastructure projects in Pakistan worth $46 billion. The agreement will link their economies and underscoring China’s economic ambitions in Asia and beyond.
“But Chinese investment in Pakistan doesn’t come without a price. With the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Beijing aims to expand its influence on Pakistan and across Central and South Asia in order to counter the US and Indian influence. The CPEC would link Pakistan’s southern Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea to China’s western Xinjiang region. It also includes plans to create a road, rail and oil pipeline links which would improve connectivity between China and the Middle East,” reports Deutsche Welle.