China Expands Naval Base, Installs Missile Launchers on South China Sea, Satellite Images Show
China is placing installments on strategic island base in the disputed South China Sea, according to the satellite images captured from an ImageSat International Eros B satellite on Monday.
Defense News reported that the People's Liberation Army of China has constructed the Yulin naval base on Hainan Island and has been installing several missile launchers since March.
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"The direction in which the launchers are facing leads us to believe these are shore-to-ship missiles," Amut Gur, imagery analyst, said, noting that the missile systems are now "clearly visible."
He noted that similar systems have previously appeared two years ago, but these had been removed in recent months to make room for infrastructure upgrades at the site.
"We just don't know if they are new systems," or "the ones that were stored during the renovation," Gur said.
From an empty plateau on March 15 to a newly paved infrastructure and several launch sites on May 8, the ISI noted the fast progress taking place on Yulin's eastern side.
"We're seeing the building of infrastructure that wasn't there before and what looks like preparations for shore-to-ship missiles, just like on the western side," ISI spokesperson Gil Or said.
Gur also noted that the Yulin base expansion strengthens Beijing's crucial triangle of forward bases that could quickly project its power beyond neighboring regions like Vietnam and the Philippines, Defense News reported.
Meanwhile, China has also recently test-fired a new type of ballistic missile in the Boha Sea, which sits between China and North Korea. It is unclear if the missile test is meant to serve as a warning for the US or North Korea.