May 30 (UPI) -- China reportedly plans to build an underwater observation system that will cover the disputed East and South China seas, according to a Hong Kong newspaper.
The South China Morning Post quoted CCTV that the $290 million project was recently approved by the Chinese government.
The system will reportedly take five years to build.
"A data center will also be built in Shanghai to monitor and store the chemical, biological and geological information collected from the underwater systems," CCTV reported. "Such systems would not only help China advance in scientific research and disaster prevention, but help protect national security."
Technical aspects of the system, which would include sensors to detect submarines, were not reported.
The plan is expected to cause alarm among countries in the region. The Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia dispute China's claimed sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea and China and Japan are in a sovereignty dispute over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.