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China developing satellites to monitor South China Sea, report says

06:17 PM August 16, 2018

China is reportedly developing a system to launch a series of satellites “to conduct effective and efficient surveillance” over the South China Sea.

China’s state media China News Service reported on Thursday that Sanya Institute of Remote Sensing in Hainan will launch the series of satellites in the second half of 2019.

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The program, aimed to assist remote-sensing coverage, will be in two phases.

It includes two hyperspectral satellites and two SAR (synthetic aperture radar) satellites by 2021, for conducting remote-sensing over the South China Sea, the report said.

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“The combination of cameras and automatic identification systems will allow us not only to monitor ships lawfully sailing in the South China Sea but also to detect and track illegally operating ones,” Yang Tianliang, director of the institute and chief designer of the constellation, was quoted in the report as saying.

The satellite will be fully operational by 2021 and will cover the entire South China Sea.

A separate report of state-run Global Times said work has started for the prototype of the first three satellites of Hainan-1 Earth Observation Satellites, equipped with a camera, and automatic identification system.

“The Hainan-1 satellites will monitor every reef and ship within the South China Sea, which can help provide an accurate and quick response in an emergency,” the report from Sanya Institute was quoted as saying.

Chen Xiangmiao, a research fellow at the Hainan-based National Institute for the South China Sea, said in the report that the satellites will give China “an advantage in negotiating the demarcation of the sea.”

He added that satellites will also be of “great importance in terms of defending territorial sovereignty, marine exploration, domestic fisheries security and cooperation with surrounding countries on marine issues.”

China claims nearly the entire of South China Sea, including waters close to the shores of its Southeast Asian neighbors the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam, all of which have claims in the strategic waterway.   /vvp

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