BEIJING – China will set up an offshore observation network, including satellite and radar stations, to strengthen the country’s maritime power, the official China Daily reported on Friday, in a move that could exacerbate tensions in the region.
Many of China’s neighbours, including Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam, have expressed concern at China’s military build-up and increasingly assertive posture in the region.
The network, which an official from the State Oceanic Administration called “fundamental” to protecting China’s maritime interests, is set to be completed by 2020, the newspaper said.
The network would cover coastal waters, the high seas and polar waters, the report said, adding that undersea observation operations and tsunami warning stations would also be built.
The network would help China realize the potential for resources in China’s marine areas, the report said. It did not mention how much the network would cost to build.
China lays claim to almost all of the South China Sea, believed to be rich in minerals and oil-and-gas deposits. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims.
In the East China Sea, a string of islets claimed by both China and Japan, known in China as the Diaoyu and in Japan as the Senkaku, have strained ties. Patrol ships and fighter jets from both countries have shadowed each other regularly near the uninhabited islands, sparking fears an accidental collision or other incident could escalate into a larger conflict.