China launches satellite to safeguard maritime interests

A high-tech satellite launched by China on 10 August will help the country protect its maritime interests, especially amid rising tensions in the South China Sea.

Experts have said that the Gaofen 3 high-resolution Earth observation satellite will also improve the nation’s ability to forecast natural calamities.

The new satellite has been developed by the China Academy of Space Technology in Beijing. It has a service life of eight years and is reportedly capable of generating radar images, irrespective of the weather conditions.

“The satellite will play an important role in monitoring the marine environment, islands and reefs, and ships and oil rigs,” Xu Fuxiang, head of the Gaofen 3 project at the academy, was quoted as saying by the China Daily.

The satellite may also help Beijing defend its interests in the debate over South China Sea, which involves the Spratly and the Paracel Islands. Beijing has long had territorial claims to the islands, which in part overlap similar claims by the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan, while China also has separate territorial disputes in the area with Malaysia and Brunei.

“Satellites like the Gaofen 3 will be very useful in safeguarding the country’s maritime rights and interests,” Xu Fuxiang said, noting the length of the country’s coastline, it’s territorial seas and numerous islands.

China’s Gaofen project began in May 2010 and the Gaofen 1 was launched in April 2013. That was followed by four other Gaofen satellites launched in 2014 and 2015. The country is now preparing for the launch of Gaofen 5, 6 and 7, which will be optical remote sensing satellites, the administration said.