China's independently-developed underwater glider, Haiyi, which means "sea wings" in Chinese, has successfully completed a scientific observation in the Indian Ocean, marking the first time that the country's indigenous underwater glider was used in this ocean, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The mission, between December 11 and January 2, was meant to observe the interaction between global climate change and marine conditions, Yu Jiancheng, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' (CAS) Shenyang Institute of Automation, the glider's developer, was quoted as saying.
The underwater glider was used to monitor the deep-sea environment in vast areas, Yu Jiancheng said. After diving into the Indian Ocean on December 11, Haiyi obtained 190 pieces of data on its 705-kilometre journey, Yu Jiancheng added.
The news of the glider followed a recent report that China has developed a new underwater surveillance network to help its submarines lock on to targets while protecting the nation's interests along the its Maritime Silk Road plan, which includes the Indian Ocean.
The system, which has already been launched, works by gathering information about the underwater environment, particularly water temperature and salinity, which the navy can then use to more accurately track and target vessels as well as improve navigation and positioning, the Hong Kongbased South China Morning Post reported on January 1.
The project, led by the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), is part of an unprecedented military expansion fuelled by Beijing's desire to challenge the US in the world's oceans, the Post report said.
The Diplomat magazine reported that China's rocket forces conducted two tests late last year of a new hypersonic glide vehicle known as the DF-17, citing US intelligence sources.
The Xinhua report said before its Indian Ocean mission, the glider also accomplished a three-month mission in the South China Sea in October 2017, when it reached a record distance of over 1,880 kms while collecting data for scientific research.
The deep water landscape and water conditions in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean differ considerably, and the missions in different regions will also help China contribute more to international scientific research, Chen Xiangmiao, a research fellow at the National Institute for the South China Sea, told the Global Times.
"Such explorations are open and transparent as they are for scientific purposes and not for military use. They should not be politicised or hyped by India and countries surrounding the South China Sea," Chen said.