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02:52 PM, May 11, 2017
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China Installs Anti-ship Missile Launchers on South China Sea Island
Satellite images reveal Chinese expansion in South China Sea (Photo Credit: ImageSat International)

China is installing missile launchers on strategic island base in the disputed South China Sea, the satellite images captured from an ImageSat International (ISI) Eros B satellite suggested Monday.

The People's Liberation Army of China has constructed the Yulin naval base on Hainan Island and has been installing several missile launchers since March, DefenseNews reported Monday.

"The direction in which the launchers are facing leads us to believe these are shore-to-ship missiles," Amut Gur, imagery analyst, said. The missile systems are now "clearly visible." he added.

Similar systems have previously appeared two years ago, but these had been removed in recent months to make room for infrastructure upgrades at the site, Gur added.

"We just don't know if they are new systems," or "the ones that were stored during the renovation," he said.

From an empty plateau on March 15 to a newly paved infrastructure and several launch sites on May 8, the ISI stressed that the rapid progress taking place on Yulin's eastern side.

"We're seeing the building of infrastructure that wasn't there before and what looks like preparations for shore-to-ship missiles, just like on the western side," ISI spokesperson Gil Or said.

Gur also noted that the Yulin base expansion strengthens Beijing's crucial triangle of forward bases that could quickly project its power beyond neighboring regions like Vietnam and the Philippines.

Meanwhile, China has also recently test-fired a new type of ballistic missile in the Boha Sea that is located between China and North Korea. 

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