China plans to build a huge sea lab 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) below the surface of the South China Sea. This project is part is China’s thirteenth five-year economic plan, and it is ranked two in the country’s top 100 science and technology priorities. The purpose of this project is to help China find minerals in the waters…but it may also have military purposes.
Only a little information is available for the public as of the moment.
The platform will be movable, as noted in the recent presentation by the Ministry of Science and Technology. The deep-sea station is spearheaded by China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation. It will have a dozen crew on board and could stay underwater for about a month.
So. Just how feasible is this? Well, general location faces both geological and technical challenges, such as frequent occurrence of typhoons. The area is estimated to have around 125 billion barrels of oil and around 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. China already spent 1.42 trillion yuan ($216 billion) on research and development in 2015. So they are investing big in the project.
Notably, China previously proved that they can live up to their deepsea ambitions by setting a world record when they sent their submersible Jiaolong to descend 7 kilometers (23,000 feet) into the Indian Ocean.
Interestingly, the “Underwater Great Wall Project,” a network of sensors to help detect US and Russian submarines, has also been proposed.