China's submarine observation sector needs own core technology: analysts

By Shen Weiduo Source:Global Times Published: 2018/6/13 21:38:40

China has been ramping up efforts to develop maritime technologies and the maritime economy, but the lack of certain technology, especially in the submarine observation sector, might hurt the pace of development, experts said Wednesday.

China's underwater connectors market, whether in the national long-term scientific submarine networks sector, or the short-term experimental one, are currently monopolized by foreign companies, news site reported on Wednesday. Underwater connectors are used for joining up electrical or optical circuits underwater.

There are two main kinds of underwater connectors: dry-mate subsea connectors and wet-mate subsea connectors. China has the core technology for the dry-mate subsea connectors, which are assembled on the land and then put into use underwater, the report said, citing Yang Huayong, who is a PhD working in the Zhongtian Technology Group.

The company is now studying the technology of wet-mate subsea connectors.

"However, for the latter ones, which are plugged and used both under the sea, China can only rely on imports," Yang was quoted as saying.

More than 10 countries including Japan and nations in North America and Western Europe have set up submarine observation networks, according to the report.

"With a late start, the establishment of our submarine observation network will largely rely on those countries that possess the core technologies," Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Li said that China is especially far behind in underwater connectors, which are indispensable in doing underwater surveys and observations.

Li said that the US and Germany are the main exporters of these connectors, and if the two cut off supplies of these "core components," the whole process of establishing a submarine observation network might be hindered, and China may suffer great losses.

China announced the establishment of a submarine observation network, the first national science and technology infrastructure project in the maritime field, in June 2017, said a report from the Xinhua News Agency.

The cable-based network will study the bed of the East China Sea and the South China Sea to collect data that will then be analyzed in Shanghai, the report noted.

"The network will be mainly for civilian use, for example, to observe environmental and marine disasters, but it will also be significant in the military field," Li said.

According to the Xinhua report, the network will be completed within five years at a cost of more than 2.1 billion yuan ($310 million).

Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, also stressed the importance of the network in monitoring the marine environment and developing the marine economy.

"It is similar to the situation in the domestic chip industry. We will ultimately have the technology, but it will take time," Lin told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Newspaper headline: Submarine observation sector needs core technology


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