The South China Sea. (Photo: Rod Waddington/CC BY-SA 2.0)

China has long been behind the U.S. and other countries when it comes to deep-sea research, which can be expensive, since it requires specialized submersibles outfitted to withstand the pressures of the deep blue sea. 

But, according to Bloomberg, they are planning to do something radical about it: an underwater sea laboratory, capable of holding scientists on a permanent basis for weeks or months at a time. The lab would be stationed up to 9,800 feet underwater, likely in the South China Sea.

Details beyond that were scarce, writes Bloomberg, having only seen a presentation given at the country’s Science Ministry, but American scientists not involved in the project said that it was more than possible. 

The project, should it materialize, would likely operate something like an underwater space station, with scientists spending infrequent tours there. 

But, as Bloomberg points out, it also would not be purely about science. China has been aggressively marking its territory in the South China Sea, to the irritation of some neighbors, like the Philippines and Vietnam.

Adding an underwater sea lab to its arsenal of manmade islands? Why not.