Near the picturesque city of Sanya, at the southernmost tip of Hainan Island, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy is methodically preparing itself for the next phase of power projection in the South China Sea. The site in question is the Yulin Naval Base, and it is shaping up to be the most strategically important military base in the South China Sea. In fact, it may already hold the title, depending largely on the current nuclear submarine traffic flowing in and out of Yulin’s underground facility. Theater and point defense assets have been deployed, degaussing and weapons-loading facilities appear operationally ready — as do the administrative buildings, munitions transportation systems, and geological fortifications — and much of the South Sea Fleet’s submarine force has already nestled itself deep into the resident mountain. With a healthy mix of surface vessels, anti-aircraft and anti-ship missile platforms, and both conventional attack and nuclear deterrent submarines, Yulin’s strategic value is steadily rising. And with it rises China’s coercive power in the South China Sea and its surrounding waterways.