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China Is the Danger:underground Submarine Bases in the South China Sea

Updated on August 22, 2020
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A senior air warrior, graduate from the Staff College and a PG in military studies and Law. He is qualified to write on this subject.

Satellite photo of submarine entering pen
Satellite photo of submarine entering pen


The genesis of the present problem can be traced to the long march of the armies of the Communist party 1934-35. The communists were pursued by the Kuomintang led by General Chang Kai Shek and supported by the Americans. The Long March covering almost 6000miles from Jiangxi to the Shaan mountains began the ascent to power of Mao Zedong. Escaping from decimation the communist's bided their time and after the surrender of Japan in 1945 they began a full-scale civil war against the American supported Nationalists. This was the turning point in Chinese history. The Americans poured in a lot of weapons and money to shore up the Kuomintang but General Chang Kai Shek was defeated and fled to Formosa. The main reason was he had lost the support of the peasantry which constituted 90% of the population of China.

In 1949 Mao Zedong ushered in a Communist regime in China. The Americans refused to recognize this regime and continued to consider Formosa now called Taiwan as the de facto and de jure representative of China. This continued for two decades and in the meantime, the communists built up their power and a military-industrial base. There was a change in American thinking and under Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, the Americans decided to dump the Taiwan regime.

The American thinking was conditioned by a fear of the Soviet Union. The American think tank led by Kissinger who was secretary of State hoped the Chinese Communists would forget about their support of the Kuomintang and partner America against the Soviet Union. It was as if the Americans regretted having supported the Nationalist regime against the communists. America recognized communist China and Richard Nixon paid obeisance to Mao Zedong by visiting Beijing.

Earlier in the 60s President Johnson for reasons which have never been made clear had allowed China to go nuclear. This was the time when China had no offensive weapons and if Johnson had decided he had the B-52 bombers which could have easily decimated the Chinese nuclear program.

The Americans now began to take an active interest in China and became partners in its development. But they were unaware of the Chinese mind. The Chinese had decided that they would displace the United States as the number one power in the world both economically and militarily as well as change the world currency system. The Chinese have a very ancient civilization compared to the Americans and they brought their old wisdom to the fore and fooled the Americans. The American industry looked at China as a lollipop for cheap goods and its vast market and accordingly billions of dollars of investment began to come to China. The other Western nations of Europe also followed suit. They had their problem as their younger population was shrinking as the fertility of their women and the birth rate was low.

China cleverly welcomed Western investment and at the same time, they pilfered Western technology for their use. They also did reverse engineering and produced similar goods. The Chinese economy burgeoned and reached $15 trillion,2nd to America. As per forecast by economists, if the present trend continues they will take overtake America by 2030.

More ominous the Chinese built a formidable military machine with the largest army in the world. The army had already shown its mettle in the Korean war when 50,000 Peoples Liberation Army soldiers had almost pushed the American led force out of South Korea. The Chinese also began to concentrate on the Navy and their assured aim is to match the American fleet. They have now built nuclear submarines and six of them are in operation. Besides, two aircraft carriers have joined the Chinese navy and a dozen are under construction.

The leopard does not change its spots. The communist party of China has always harbored enmity against America and they cannot forget that for 50 years the American supported General Chang and the Nationalists and even now props the state of Taiwan. The American hope of partnering China has floundered and the Dragon is now breathing fire. They have now made significant military developments and also laid claim to vast areas around them. They have now claimed the entire South China Sea and have disregarded the judgment of the International Court. They have also made artificial islands in the South China Sea and built up military bases there. All this happened under the nose of the Americans who tacitly allowed them. The American think tank wrongly assumed that if they allowed China a free hand in the South China Sea China would be beholden to America. Unfortunately, this was not the Chinese way of thinking and China has become more belligerent and all neighbors and littoral states around the South China Sea are scared. President Duterte of the Philippines has clearly stated that the problem in the South China Sea is the creation of the United States and in case they were keen to stop China they could have sent five aircraft carriers a decade back and stopped the Chinese, which they never did.

Secret underground submarine pen

China has been planning for conflict at a later stage with the western world notably the United States and its new strategic partner India. One of the plans for this is to raise naval offensive and defensive capability. Recently a commercial satellite by chance has shared on social media an image of a Chinese submarine entering an underground base of the island of Hainan in the South China Sea. The photo was perhaps a rare chance because the satellite at that particular moment was right over the Chinese base and the weather was clear. The submarine was also seen clearly entering its pen.

The photo was posted online by Radio Free Asia and it reveals that the Chinese type 093 Shang class nuclear powered fast attack submarine entering a pen at the Yulin Naval base. This is a rare satellite photo. It shows the Chinese submarine entering a subterranean base in Hainan island which is part of the Chinese South Sea Fleet. The base provides easy access to the Chinese fleet to the disputed islands in the South China Sea.

The Chinese reportedly have six nuclear-powered submarines at the moment and more are under construction. Carl Schuster, A former director of operations at the US Pacific command joint intelligence Centre thinks that the construction of such a secret tunnel and underground pen for submarines makes it difficult for any enemy or adversary to keep a tab on Chinese naval operations and intentions.

The submarines are classified as offensive weapons. One will recollect that the Russians operated nearly 70 nuclear-powered submarines during the era of the Cold War. Many of these are now lying rusting at the naval base at Murmansk in the Arctic Ocean in Northern Russia.

Strategic experts believe that the construction of the subterranean base at Hainan is basically for action against the American carriers operating in the South China sea. China has laid claim to almost the entire South China Sea and has built up a fair amount of military capability on the islands. The naval base at Yulin will provide offensive support to Chinese forces in the Spratly Islands. One wonders how China could build all this offensive capability in the Spratly Islands. This took many years and the United States is guilty of turning a blind eye to the offensive actions of the Chinese.

Subterranean bases were built by the Germans for the U-boats in World War II and they were next to impossible to destroy. They nurtured the U-boat operations in the Atlantic for many years. This base built by the Chinese is a strong point for the Chinese navy and with a nuclear submarine parked there, the threat is real.

Is the USA responsible in the main for the rise of China's military power

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Last word

There used to be an old song sung by Doris Day the American singer. She sang 'whatever will be will be....' The question which people have to ask is whether the Chinese can continue their buildup and the world have to accept it and in due course of time except Chinese dominance. Domination by China can be a terrible thing as we have witnessed what they have done in Tibet and Xinjiang. I will not go into the details here and will write about them in a subsequent post but the fact is that the yellow peril is for real. Sadly the United States has a big hand in the rise of China and I wonder what the American leadership can do now once the cat is out of the bag. People outside America wonder what America is going to do.

On a recent visit to Manila on my official work, I had a brief conversation with a Philippine in the hotel. He raised a very relevant point and said both the American contenders for president are beholden to China, one way or the other, so nothing can be expected from them. We will have to wait and see. In the meantime, China continues becoming belligerent by the day.


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