China takes top billing in this week’s news of the “what the huh?” variety. China is working to secure rights to the South China Sea in order to build what can only be called a “space station” deep below the ocean’s surface. The proposal involves a platform built 9,800 feet under the waves, where dozens of crew members would be stationed. The purpose? Primarily to aid in the country’s offshore mining efforts. Evidently, word has not yet reached China about what a devastating practice that can be.
The Chinese Science Ministry recently gave a presentation on the plan, although many details aren’t available to the public at this point. Essentially, the country wants to construct a deep sea scientific hub where crews could survive, underwater, for up to a month. Theoretically, all manner of ocean-related scientific research could be conducted there. The project was mentioned in China’s five-year economic development plan, released in March, wherein this deep sea lab was ranked second in priority among the top 100 scientific projects the country aims to undertake.
After Chinese authorities reviewed the plan, it was evidently decided to speed up progress on the underwater platform, although there have been no announcements related to the project’s time line, design, cost, or specific location. It’s presumed at this time that President Xi Jinping’s administration is targeting the South China Sea, evidenced by the country’s efforts to secure sovereignty over the highly disputed waters.
China already considers more than 80 percent of the South China Sea under its sovereign territory, in the face of opposition from Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines, which all stake some claim to various parts of the same region. What will happen next in the evolution of China’s underwater ‘space station’ project is anyone’s guess.