'This is militarization': We finally know what China's mysterious hexagonal structures in the South China Sea are for
In August, AMTI published satellite imagery of several unidentified hexagonal structures on Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief reefs.
The formations are always oriented toward the sea and started to appear in May, according to experts at AMTI."More recent satellite imagery suggests that these hexagonal structures are point defense systems that are designed to defend the land features and the assets on them from an attack," Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia and the director of the China Power Project at CSIS, told Business Insider.
What's more, Glaser notes that China is building these structures on all seven of the islets and reefs it occupies in the Spratly Islands.
Skip to the satellite images of the structures »
On Wednesday, as first reported by Reuters, AMTI director Greg Poling said he was "confident" in the identification of these structures.
"This is the first time that we're confident in saying they are anti-aircraft and CIWS (close-in weapons systems) emplacements. We did not know that they had systems this big and this advanced there," Poling told Reuters.
"This is militarization. The Chinese can argue that it's only for defensive purposes, but if you are building giant anti-aircraft gun and CIWS emplacements, it means that you are prepping for a future conflict."Glaser echoed Poling, telling Business Insider, "although these systems are intended for self-defense, it is hard to argue that they are consistent with Xi Jinping's pledge to not militarize the islands."
It has been a little over five months since the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidated Beijing's vast territorial claims in the South China Sea. All the while, Beijing has maintained the ruling has no bearing and continues to build in the region.
Since 2013, China has created more than 3,200 acres of new land on its outposts in the Spratly Islands.
All photos republished with permission from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.