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Photos Emerge of China’s Military Bases on Artificial Islands

Aerial shots put China’s military bases in the highly contested South China Sea into crisp detail

A Chinese military base is captured on an island in the South China Sea. Photo: Ezra Acayan.
A Chinese military base is captured on an island in the South China Sea. Photo: Ezra Acayan.


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.


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.


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


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Alfie Habershon

Alfie is a Reporter at Asia Financial. He previously lived in Mumbai reporting on India's economy and healthcare for data journalism initiative IndiaSpend, as well as having worked for London based Tortoise Media.


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