Kagitingan Reef may be serving as China’s “intelligence hub” in WPS, says US think tank

Image capture from AMTI article
  • A US think tank has published a recent analysis of the nearly finished militarization of West PH Sea by China
  • AMTI said China may be using one of the reefs as its “intelligence hub” in the area
  • The think tank noted Kagitingan Reef saw the most construction in 201 compared to six other reefs occupied by Beijing

MANILA, Philippines – Kagitingan Reef (International name: Fiery Cross Reef) may be serving as China’s “intelligence and communications hub” in the West Philippine Sea, this was according to the latest analysis published by US think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI).

AMTI noted the earlier satellite photos published by Inquirer which supposedly showed the transformation of seven contested reefs occupied by Beijing in disputed territories island fortresses which are all nearing completion.

The US think tank said these photos “offered glimpses of Beijing’s military facilities at a level of detail rarely seen before” as well as reinforced their early analysis that “these artificial islands now host substantial, largely complete, air and naval bases, and new construction continues apace despite diplomatic overtures between China and its fellow claimants.”

AMTI, said that based on Inquirer photos on their own images, Kagitingan Reef saw the most construction last year.

Evident from these aerial images are the 3,000-meter runway; hangars for at least 4 combat aircrafts; a tall tower housing a sensor/communications facility topped by a radome; three towers housing sensor/communications facilities topped by radomes; and a large communications/sensor array, among others.

“None of the other bases in the Spratlys so far has a comparable array, though smaller ones have been built on Subi and Mischief, suggesting that Fiery Cross might be serving as a signals intelligence/communications hub for Chinese forces in the area,” AMTI said.

Last week, Malacañang denied the Duterte administration is being ‘too soft’ on China, and said Manila have “consistently filed protest” against Beijing via what is known as the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on the South China Sea.

“I confirm, we have protested not only the building of the islands but also the alleged militarization of the islands and therefore contrary to claims of critics, we have long protested the military use of the artificial islands in the South China Sea,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said earlier in a statement.