China prepares to build ‘floating fortresses’ to expand maritime reach

China prepares to build ‘floating fortresses’ to expand maritime reach
CGI representation of a future Chinese floating base. (Via Chinese media)

[Ed. – These aren’t aircraft carriers; the “floating fortresses” would represent a more permanent form of forward presence on the world’s oceans.  What China contemplates is an artificially expanded “virtual territory.”  It’s the next logical step in what China is doing with the South China Sea artificial islands.  The Obama administration may complacently ignore it, but China’s neighbors won’t.]

Two Chinese companies say they are to build platforms as long as 3.2km that could host airstrips, docks, helipads, barracks or even “comprehensive security bases”, in the words of one company executive. …

[E]xecutives are open about the fact that there are also military applications for their projects, known as very large floating structures, which could one day become part of China’s naval armada. …

While floating islands would be granted none of the sovereignty of real islands by international law, they could nonetheless be used to station aircraft or buttress the defences of the artificial islands.

Hainan Offshore’s website refers to the potentially strategic use of its wares. “Under the increasingly complicated South China Sea situation,” it says in a company introduction, “Hainan Offshore Industry adheres to the principle ‘when the sovereignty of the state is challenged, time and tide wait for no man’.”

Deployment of a VLFS could test already tense relations in the region. “Planting one of these in the middle of the South China Sea would be a terribly provocative act,” said Richard Bitzinger, an authority on maritime security.

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