New pictures emerged on Thursday of China’s sophisticated military bases located on artificial islands in the South China Sea.
Aerial shots put vast hangers, radar domes and a military KJ-500 plane into crisp detail, complemented by tennis courts, a swimming pool and running track, captured by Getty Images photographer Ezra Acayan.
Latest Aerial Views Of China’s Artificial Islands In The South China Sea
Airfields, buildings, recreational facilities, and other structures are seen on the artificial islands built by China in these pictures taken on October 25, 2022 in the Spratly Islands, South China Sea. pic.twitter.com/tOclMNSmkL
— Ezra Acayan (@eacayan) October 27, 2022
The South China Sea is an area of historic territorial tension between China and the US, positioned between China, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines and Malaysia.
The military development of at least three artificial islands has taken place near the Spratly Islands, roughly at the sea’s centre.
Missiles And Turrets
“My guess is that the sea-facing garages are for angled cruise missile launchers,” Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security Tom Shugart said on Twitter.
Shugart also pointed out naval gun turrets and a CIWS anti-missile system from analysis of the photos.
First, some great detailed shots of some of the gun towers built on each corner of all of the “Big 3™️” island bases. Here’s one from Fiery Cross Reef. You can see clearly what looks like a transplanted naval gun turret, and an anti-missile CIWS. pic.twitter.com/fWFdQLTYsw
— Tom Shugart ⚓️⚛️ (@tshugart3) October 27, 2022
This equipment would ensure defence against low-flying air threats, the Drive reported, such as drones, cruise missiles, aircraft and foreign vessels.
Weapons and watchtowers were accompanied by barracks and accommodation, with Chinese state media CGTN previously reporting that a population of over 5,000 officers and soldiers are stationed on the islands.
China Flexes its Muscles
China’s military build-up over the last 20 years is the largest we have seen since World War Two, said US Indo-Pacific commander Admiral John C Aquilino in a Guardian report.
Xi Jinping has extended China’s claim over the South China Sea with the militarisation of artificial islands despite his assurances this would not happen, he said.
The aerial shots come days after China’s momentous Communist Party congress event, where Xi refused to rule out using force on Taiwan to achieve reunification.
“Complete reunification of the motherland must be achieved, and it must be achieved!” He said.
- By Alfie Habershon