China has deployed a network of sensors and communications capabilities between Hainan Island and the Paracel Islands in the northern South China Sea. These capabilities are part of a “Blue Ocean Information Network” developed by China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC), a state-owned company, to aid in the exploration and control of the maritime environment using information technology.
The network constructed in the northern South China Sea between early 2016 and 2019 is referred to as a demonstration system. However, future plans for the Blue Ocean Information Network involve expanding the sensor and communications network to the rest of the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and other ocean areas far from Chinese territory.
While the Blue Ocean Information Network is largely cast as an environmental monitoring and communications system, the military utility of its sensing and communications functions makes its development important to monitor.
The most visible elements of this network are two types of “Ocean E-Stations” dubbed “floating integrated information platforms” (IIFP) and “island reef-based integrated information systems” (IRBIS). AMTI previously identified one of the latter systems after it was deployed to Bombay Reef in the Paracels in mid-2018.
Chinese Fixed and Floating Platform Deployment
As of June 2020, CETC has deployed five floating platforms around Hainan and one fixed platform at Bombay Reef. An additional fixed platform remains at the company’s fabrication site on the coast of Hainan. CETC’s nearby headquarters also contains one atypical fixed platform, likely a prototype used for research and development. (end of excerpt)
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