MANILA, Philippines – China has started operating weather stations on its artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang.
The weather stations can be found on the Spratly Islands, known by the Chinese as Nansha, in the West Philippine Sea.
China installed these weather stations on Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross Reef), Subi Reef (Zamora Reef), and Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef) in the West Philippine Sea, according to a report by the South China Morning Post.
"Recently, China has begun operating a maritime observation center, a meteorological observatory, and a national environmental and air quality monitoring station on reefs of the Nansha Islands," Lu said in a press conference Thursday, November 1.
The Spratlys are a group of islands located off the west coast of the Philippine island province Palawan.
What are the stations for? Lu said they intend to take samples of the weather conditions from the area and to share the services with "countries in the region."
Lu detailed the metrics the facilities could measure. "These projects are designed to observe the maritime, hydrological, meteorological conditions and air qualities, and provide such services as maritime warning and forecast, tsunami alert, weather forecast, air quality forecast, and disaster prevention and relief," he said.
Simply for service? Lu said that "this is what we primarily wanted to achieve when we started these works on the islands and reefs in the South China Sea."
The new weather stations, however, are only just part of at least 1,600 reported structures built by China in the Spratlys and the Paracel Islands as of May this year.
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.