What you need to know
China may be hoping to use the vessels as a dangerous nuclear deterrent.
Issues of radiation contamination defy national boundaries.
A bizarre idea proposed by China has been the construction of floating nuclear reactors for use around South China Seas islands — territory also claimed by Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam and other regional powers.
In truth, the idea is not as grandiose as it sounds. While artificial island building has been something that China has resorted to in order to territorial claims over this region, most plans for these “floating nuclear reactors” would be closer to nuclear-powered vessels.
Another proposal has beenusing them to power traditional oil drilling platforms.
But what China possibly intends is for such “floating nuclear reactors” in the South China Seas to serve as a nuclear deterrent to possible attacks on islands that it claims as its own.
Nuclear-powered military vessels already do exist in the form of submarines or aircraft carriers, but fear of nuclear disaster caused by destroying these vessels is usually not viewed as a deterrent in military strategic calculus.
China’s use of floating nuclear reactors, however, would be ironic. A nuclear disaster would render South China Seas islands as inaccessible to China as to other countries in the region.
Like many other countries in the region, China has an active environmental and anti-nuclear movement. A radiation disaster in South China Seas islands would no doubt affect Chinese citizens. Issues of radiation contamination defy national boundaries. This is what has allowed for collaboration between environmental organizations and NGOs from Asia Pacific countries otherwise politically at odds with each other. China has taken steps to crack down on international collaboration between NGOs in recent times, fearing that such collaboration would provide foreign agents a means to undermine the Chinese government from within.
Such actions evidence the hypocrisy of the Chinese state, seeing as the they seem to value political threats more than addressing environmental issues facing the peoples of the Asia Pacific region.
It remains to be seen whether the notion of floating nuclear reactors is practical and workable, or simply one of the many technological pipe dreams that Chinese propaganda organs overinflate in order to stun the rest of the world.
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The News Lens has been authorized to repost this article. The original post was published on New Bloom here.
TNL Editor: Morley J Weston