University student prefers to study music despite mapping Chinese military bases

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  • By William Hetherington / writer, with CNA

A university student has drawn attention to an interactive map he designed, detailing all Chinese military bases and installations throughout the Indo-Pacific region.

Joseph Wen (溫約瑟), a music student at Soochow University who calls himself a military enthusiast, said he created the map to “help people better understand the situation across the strait.”

Wen originally posted the card online on June 14 last year, but it gained wider attention after mentioning it during an appearance on a Chinese TV talk show.

Photo: Website screenshot

On the broadcast, Wen said he gathered information about the locations from publicly available websites, as well as academic papers from military academies in Taiwan and other countries.

For example, Wen said he learned the location of a base after a Baidu user posted about a tank next to a military camp.

Wen said he used maps to cross-reference and pinpoint the location of the base.

“Sometimes I just browse maps with my naked eye, but that can lead to mistakes,” he said, adding that he once confused a prison with a military installation.

“Intelligence agencies have more accurate information, so it’s just for public use,” he said.

Wen said on Saturday that after appearing on the TV talk show, he received threatening Twitter messages about his card.

However, Wen added that he was not scared by the messages, but would report netizens to the police if necessary.

Despite his enthusiasm for military affairs, Wen said he has no family members in the military.

His interest in the military grew in college through conversations with friends, he said.

After creating the map, Wen learned that what he was doing was known as open source intelligence analysis.

Wen said he plans to continue updating the map, but has no plans for a career in the military or intelligence.

“Music is a relatively pure interest that is not shrouded in conflict, except for certain aspects of music history,” he said, adding that he prefers the simple pleasures of study music.

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