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U.S. EP-3s Listen To Chinese Construction
by James Dunnigan
June 9, 2008

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The U.S. has revealed what the U.S. Navy EP-3 electronic reconnaissance aircraft was spying on when it was clipped by a Chinese fighter in early 2001. The target was the new naval base China is building in the south.   Two years ago, commercial satellite photos began to show details of a new naval base that China was building at Yulin, near Sanya, on the southern island of Hainan (near Vietnam) [PHOTO]. The base has underground docking facilities for nuclear and diesel-electric subs and surface ships, created by tunneling into coastal hills.

Rumors of such a base have been circulating for the past six years, apparently since locals began noticing all the construction activity, and the tight security around the site. The underground facilities not only protect the boats from air or sea based attack, but enable maintenance and modifications to be done in secret. Apparently back in 2001, the U.S. Navy believed there was enough electronic emissions coming from the construction site to justify sending an EP-3.

The U.S. intelligence community had picked up signs of work on the new base even before the locals began to chatter about something going on there. Several smaller naval bases and navy air fields already exist on Hainan Island, but the new base is shaping up as a major facility, one capable of supporting a much larger fleet than China now possesses. India is particularly concerned because the Hainan base is close to the Indian ocean, and areas where the Indian Navy has long been top dog. Many other nations note the proximity of the new base to the Straits of Malacca, the busiest shipping channel on the planet.


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