COSTIND



China Reform Monitor No. 164, February 4, 1999
American Foreign Policy Council, Washington, DC

CHINA CALLS PLA-BUILT SATELLITE TRACKING STATION
ON TARAWA ITS "STRATEGIC FOOTHOLD" IN PACIFIC;
BEIJING EXPANDS TIES WITH ISLAND NATIONS

[Editor's note: The rapidly growing of Chinese military presence at Mischief Reef in the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone has heightened awareness of the People's Liberation Army's (including naval forces) strategic expansion in the South China Sea. An equally important, but less visible development was noted in the May 2, 1998 issue of the China Reform Monitor, No. 66 regarding a Chinese-built PLA-controlled satellite tracking station on Tarawa atoll, in the island state of Kiribati, some 500 miles south of the U.S. Kwajalein Missile Test Range which is an essential component of the Strategic Defense Initiative anti-missile program.

Kiirbati, an independent island archipelago state, the only country in the world that lies both on the Equator and the International Date Line, is located midway between China and the United States mainland. In addition, it is only some 1,500 miles from Honolulu. During World war II, Tarawa and neighboring islands were the sites of a major land, air and sea battles between U.S. and Japanese forces for control of the Pacific. Defense analysts warn the Tarawa station has significant applications for China's military modernization program and the PLA's forward-looking military doctrine, especially for launching and tracking rockets -- which can carry satellites or nuclear warheads -- and for monitoring U.S. ships and military installations in the Pacific and on the west coast of the United States.

Professor Desmond Ball at the Strategic and Defense Studies center of the Australian National University told the Far Eastern Economic Review, "[Tarawa] is going to enhance the overall efficiency of China's space program, including military." In 1999, U.S. treaties with a number of key Pacific island nations are scheduled to be renegotiated. During the negotiations, Beijing's determined strategic movement into the Pacific must be taken into full consideration.]

October 7, 1997: Beijing Keji Ribao [Science and Technology], co-published by the State Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense [COSTIND], announced a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati, at the construction site of the China Aerospace Tarawa T&C [tracking and control] Station, the first Chinese aerospace T&C station constructed outside of China. The ceremonial delegation from China Satellite Launch Tracking and Control Authority [CSLTCA] was led by PLA General Ge Hunbiao, a deputy political commissar in COSTIND, which is subordinated under both the PLA and the State Council.

October 14, 1997: The China News Service reports the satellite tracking station on Tarawa, built exclusively by Chinese personnel, is equipped with advanced space telemetry receiving units, satellite orbital measurement instruments, and satellite communications equipment. The station is part of China's space tracking and command system for its satellites and carrier rocket launching.

April 4, 1998: Beijing Jianchuan Zhishi [Naval and Merchant Ships] reports, "As a result of China's [completed] construction of a satellite tracking station on Tarawa atoll, China thereby has a strategic foothold in the South Pacific. This station... marks China's first permanent facility built in the South Pacific Ocean region."


Kiribati

source - CIA
Gilbert Islands
Type: republic
Capital: Tarawa
Administrative divisions:
3 units; Gilbert Islands, Line Islands, Phoenix Islands
note:

in addition, there are 6 districts (Banaba, Central Gilberts, Line Islands, Northern Gilberts, Southern Gilberts, Tarawa) and 21 island councils (Abaiang, Abemama, Aranuka, Arorae, Banaba, Beru, Butaritari, Kanton, Kiritimati, Kuria, Maiana, Makin, Marakei, Nikunau, Nonouti, Onotoa, Tabiteuea, Tabuaeran, Tamana, Tarawa, Teraina; note - one council for each of the inhabited islands)

Independence: 12 July 1979 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 12 July (1979)
Constitution: 12 July 1979
Legal system: NA
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:

chief of state and head of government: President (Beretitenti) Teburoro TITO (since 1 October 1994); Vice President (Kauoman-ni-Beretitenti) Tewareka TENTOA (since 12 October 1994); election last held on 30 September 1994 (next to be held by NA 1999)

cabinet: Cabinet; appointed by the president from an elected parliament
Legislative branch: unicameral

House of Assembly (Maneaba Ni Maungatabu): elections last held on 22 July 1994 (next to be held by NA 1999); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (40 total; 39 elected) Maneaban Te Mauri 13, National Progressive Party 7, independents 19

Judicial branch: Court of Appeal, High Court
Political parties and leaders:

National Progressive Party, Teatao TEANNAKI; Christian Democratic Party, Teburoro TITO; New Movement Party, leader NA; Liberal Party, Tewareka TENTOA; Maneaba Party, Roniti TEIWAKI; Maneaban Te Mauri, leader NA

note:

there is no tradition of formally organized political parties in Kiribati; they more closely resemble factions or interest groups because they have no party headquarters, formal platforms, or party structures

Member of:

ACP, AsDB, C, ESCAP, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, IDA, IFC, IFRCS (associate), IMF, INTELSAT (nonsignatory user), INTERPOL, ITU, SPARTECA, SPC, SPF, UNESCO, UPU, WHO

Diplomatic representation in US:
Kiribati has no mission in the US
US diplomatic representation:
the ambassador to Fiji is accredited to Kiribati
Flag:

the upper half is red with a yellow frigate bird flying over a yellow rising sun, and the lower half is blue with three horizontal wavy white stripes to represent the ocean


COSTIND & Hua Mei


PLA Unit COSTIND Pentration of Clinton White House


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