No one knows what these hexagonal structures the Chinese keep building in the South China Sea are for

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CSIS/AMTI/Digital Globe/Amanda Macias/Business Insider

WASHINGTON, DC — Experts still aren't quite sure what these mysterious hexagonal facilities in the South China Sea are.

In August, the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), a unit of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, published satellite imagery of several unidentified hexagonal structures on Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief reefs.

"I'm afraid we still don't know for sure what the structures are, beyond saying that they appear defensive in nature," Gregory Poling, director of AMTI, told Business Insider about the hexagonal designs.

Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia and the director of the China Power Project at CSIS, echoed Poling, telling Business Insider, "there has been some speculation that they might be SAM sites."

The formations are always oriented toward the sea and started to appear in May, according to experts at AMTI.

It has been a little over three months since the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidated Beijing's vast territorial claims in the South China Sea. All the while, Beijing has maintained the ruling has no bearing and continues to build in the region.

All photos republished with permission from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Subi Reef

CSIS/AMTI/Digital Globe

China began working on Subi Reef in July 2014 and has since reclaimed 3,950,000 square meters of land. Currently, Subi Reef remains China's northernmost outpost in the Spratly Island chain.

Read more about Subi Reef »

CSIS/AMTI/Digital Globe/Amanda Macias/Business Insider
CSIS/AMTI/Digital Globe/Amanda Macias/Business Insider
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