|Satellite photo of construction on Cuarteron Reef in the |
Spratly Islands. (Image courtesy CSIS Asia Maritime
Transparency Initiative/Digital Globe)
The Washington Post reports that, according to the Center for Strategic and Internation- al Studies, China is building what may be a powerful HF radar installation on one of the islands, possibly to monitor ships and aircraft in the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca, one of the world’s most important shipping lanes.
Construction of this facility – whatever it may be – is part of a major effort by China to build up the islands and develop facilities there, which it claims are primarily for civilian purposes but the US and others believe are mostly military.
The Spratlys are claimed, in whole or in part, by six different countries, and hams have mounted several
DXpeditions there in the
past 50 years, despite considerable danger. In 1983, two German hams were
killed when the Vietnamese Navy attacked and sank their boat. Last year,
evacuation of a sick ham on a DXpedition there was delayed several days after
Chinese forces fired on a Philippine Navy plane sent to fly him out for medical
|Map of the Spratlys, showing competing territorial claims. |
(Map courtesy CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative)