China’s jamming: a signal of worse to come in South China Sea  

your say April 17, 2018 01:00

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Re: “Jamming the Spratlys”, the Wall Street Journal/The Nation, April 13.

According to recent reports, China has installed jamming equipment in the contested Spratlys Islands, as part of its militarisation of the South China Sea. A satellite photo released by the Wall Street Journal last week shows suspected communications and radar jamming equipment on Mischief Reef, the largest of China’s seven outposts. The reef is located within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.

The US government said the jamming equipment was deployed in the past 90 days at bases on the Fiery Cross and Mischief reefs, where China has also built “10,000-foot runways, hangars for fighter planes, ammunition bunkers, barracks and deep-water piers for ships” (Wall Street Journal). US officials also note there have been no reported incidents of signal jamming from the Philippine side.

If the allegation of communications disruption by the Chinese is true, then it represents an escalation of tensions in the South China Sea, where a battle is being waged to control the more than US$5 trillion in trade it bears every year plus the fishery and oil resources that lie beneath its waves.    

US warships are conducting regular freedom-of-navigation exercises in the contested sea, in an attempt to prevent a Chinese lockdown.

The Philippines must also be alert. Manila’s improving relations with China cannot be used as an excuse to erode our own national security or sovereignty. In this regard, the Philippine military has an even bigger threat to address, namely cyberwarfare. Jamming technology is just one minor facet of the great leaps China is making in its capacity to wage cyberwar. Beware, Philippines!

 Jumel G Estrañero