Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Race to the bottom: Chinese sub dives 5000 metres [AFP/The Age]


“If a craft like this improves China’s ability to collect oceanographic data, that’s going to improve its submarine capability and I suspect that will be seen as troubling by the United States in particular,” Mr Medcalf said, adding that China could use the data to better hide submarines that can launch nuclear weapons.

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Race to the bottom: Chinese sub dives 5000 metres
AFP with Glenda Kwek
Source – The Age, published July 26, 2011

Jiaolong ... the sub that can dive to 7000 metres. Photo: China Daily

A Chinese submersible has conducted the country’s deepest manned dive ever as it seeks to exploit the vast resources of the ocean floor.

The Jiaolong undersea craft – named after a mythical sea dragon – reached 5038 metres below sea level in a test dive in “an international area” of the Pacific ocean, the official Xinhua news said, citing the State Oceanic Administration (SOA).

Chinese technical capabilities have gathered pace in recent decades, exemplified by a fast-growing space program that in 2003 made China just the third nation to conduct manned space flight.

Maximum depth of 7000 metres

The craft is designed to reach a maximum depth of 7000 metres and it had carried three people to 4027 metres below sea level in a test on Thursday.

Its success signified that the submersible was capable of reaching more than 70 per cent of the planet’s seabed, the SOA said, according to Xinhua.

The agency quoted the submersible’s chief designer Xu Qinan as saying its “state-of-art” digital underwater communication systems and undersea mobility systems allowed it to “move back and forth easily under the sea”.

Although much of the craft’s components were produced in China, some had to be imported from abroad such as the underwater high-definition video-shooting and transmission equipment, Xu told Xinhua.

The deepest dive ever conducted was by the US Navy, which reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench – the deepest point in the world’s oceans at 11,000 metres – in 1960 in a manned undersea craft.

In April, British entrepreneur Richard Branson announced his plans to take a one-man winged submarine down to the deepest parts of the oceans, including the Mariana Trench and the Puerto Rico Trench in the Atlantic – about 8.4 kilometres deep, later this year.

Search for resources

China has pushed hard in recent years to obtain oil, minerals and other natural resources needed to fuel its growth.

It has said its development of submersible technology is aimed at scientific research and the peaceful exploration and use of natural resources.

But China’s appetite for resources, rapid expansion of its military capabilities and increasingly strident territorial claims in the ocean have caused concern.

“There’s nothing wrong with this technology. It’s obviously an accomplishment. The questions arise about the way the technology might be used,” said senior security analyst Rory Medcalf of the Lowy Institute, who has released a report on maritime security in the Indo-Pacific Asia.

“The suggestion is that China might be exploring for resources in areas that were once thought to be inaccessible and this has a direct relationship with the contested maritime claims, for example in the South China Sea or the East China Sea.”

During the vessel’s dive to the bottom of the disputed South China Sea last year, it planted a Chinese flag in the seafloor in what was seen by some as a provocative act.

The South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas, is claimed in whole or in part by China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia.

Tensions in the region have spiked in recent months after several incidents at sea involving China and its neighbours.

Scientists say the ocean’s floors contain rich deposits of a range of potentially valuable minerals.

However, some concerns have also been raised that deep-sea vessels could be used to tap into or sever communications cables.

Mr Medcalf said apart from attempts to assert sovereignty, the submersible could be used by China to collect oceanographic data for its military submarines.

“One of the big questions about future security in the region will relate to the submarine competition between the United States and China.

“If a craft like this improves China’s ability to collect oceanographic data, that’s going to improve its submarine capability and I suspect that will be seen as troubling by the United States in particular,” Mr Medcalf said, adding that China could use the data to better hide submarines that can launch nuclear weapons.

“These are some of the potential uses and it’s pretty clear there’s no firewall between civilian and military maritime agencies in China.”

The SOA said the submersible would attempt a 7000-metre dive in 2012, Xinhua reported.

AFP with Glenda Kwek

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Filed under: AFP, Beijing Consensus, Influence, Infrastructure, International Relations, military, Modernisation, Research, Resources, Strategy, Technology, Territorial Disputes, The Age, U.S.

One Response

  1. Jaye Mccann says:

    marianas trench is the deepest trench and you can still find some animals in there despite the temendous amount of water pressure.:

    Current posting coming from our web blog
    http://www.beautyfashiondigest.com/keratin-smoothing-treatment/

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