China Plans Deep Sea Autonomous Submarine Base In South China Sea

Sunset in South China Sea
Manila Trench is reportedly the best candidate for the location of China’s underground robotic station.

(Photo: Pixabay/Ron James)

Responding to the call of President Xi Jinping in April at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, scientists now said they plan to set up a deep-sea defense and science base to be run entirely by artificial intelligence.

The underground robotic colony will be the home of the autonomous submarine and no people will be deployed to man the underground infrastructure. The base, which is expected to cost around $160 million, will be like a planet for robotic residents with artificial intelligence, a scientist involved in the project told the South China Morning Post.

The project, in order to be successful, needs to be constructed in the ocean's Hadal zone or the deepest part of a body of water. This area is usually V-shape and 19,685 to 36,100 feet abyss.

One perfect location for the deep sea artificial intelligence colony is the Manila Trench which lies close to Scarborough Shoal, according to Yan Pin, a professor at the Key Laboratory of Ocean and Marginal Sea Geology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Guangzhou.

Yan told SCMP that the Manila Trench has the ideal depth of more than 16,000 feet. The area is also where the southeastern part of Eurasian plate meets the Pacific plate, Yan added.

China and the Philippines have been at odds regarding territorial ownership on the Scarborough Shoal. The two countries, however, could cooperate regarding the planned project. China can share scientific findings with the Philippines.

For instance, the underground robotic base will be beneficial in monitoring looming tsunami that could be deadly to people residing near the area, Yan highlighted.

Indeed, early in November, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology acknowledged that the Philippines is at high risk to tsunamis. The agency said the Manila Trench is a powerful earthquake generator, as well as the Negros Trench, Sulu Trench, Cotabato Trench, Philippine Trench, and East Luzon Trough.

The United Nations General Assembly warned that tsunamis are one among the disasters that could bring economic losses and impact the global GDP by 2030.

Early tsunami warning, proper information, preparedness could prevent economic losses that could result in extreme poverty worldwide, according to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. He added that tsunamis alone accounted for almost 10 percent of economic losses from all of the direct-impact disasters. Tsunamis had also created setbacks in community development, particularly in countries bordering the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

As for China's planned underground robotic defense and science base, Professor Yan highlighted that networks in the underwater station could be beneficial in all countries surrounding the South China Sea. As for tsunami detection, China could share data and technology with other countries to prepare them promptly before disasters could hit them.

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