A newly emerged satellite image shows a Chinese air defense facility on the Paracel Islands, which analysts say indicates the People’s Liberation Army now has surface-to-air missiles at the ready permanently in both the contested archipelagos in the South China Sea.
The Paracel Islands, or Xisha Islands in Chinese, are claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan but occupied entirely by Beijing since 1974 after the Chinese Navy defeated the then South Vietnamese Navy in a brief but bloody sea battle.
China also occupies some of the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands in Chinese) that are claimed by some other neighboring countries such as Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
A satellite image of what appears to be a newly-built but completed missile battalion on Woody Island within the Paracel group has surfaced this week on Twitter.
The image – credited to Maxar Technologies, a space technology firm, and allegedly taken last April – shows four buildings with retractable roofs at a site on Woody (Yongxing in Chinese), the largest of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.
One of the buildings has its roof partially open, showing what appears to be surface-to-air missiles (SAM) launchers inside.
ImageSat International, a space intelligence company, first detected the appearance, removal and reappearance of HQ-9 SAM launchers on Woody Island in 2016.
But the new satellite image, which RFA could not verify independently, shows that the PLA has completed building an air defense base resembling those on the three artificial islands that it has fully militarized.
Similar structures with retractable roofs were detected on Subi, Mischief and Fiery Cross reefs, part of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, Tom Shugart, adjunct Sen ..
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