Sun, Nov 05, 2017 - Page 4 News List

China unveils enormous ‘magic island maker’ ship

AFP, BEIJING

The Tian Kun Hao is launched at a port in Qidong, China, on Friday.

Photo: AFP

China has unveiled a massive ship described as a “magic island maker” that is Asia’s largest dredging vessel, state media reported yesterday.

The ship, capable of building artificial islands of the sort the country has constructed in the contested South China Sea, was launched on Friday at a port in eastern Jiangsu Province, the state-owned China Daily reported.

The Tian Kun Hao is capable of excavating 6,000m3 per hour, the equivalent of three standard swimming pools, the newspaper said.

It is a larger version of the one China used to dredge sand, mud and coral to transform reefs and islets in the South China Sea into artificial islands capable of hosting military installations.

When testing of the ship is completed in June next year, it is to be the most powerful such vessel in Asia, the newspaper said, nicknaming it the “magic island maker.”

Beijing’s aggressive campaign of archipelago building in the South China Sea has been a point of contention with neighboring nations that lay claim to parts of its waters.

China claims nearly all of the sea, through which US$5 trillion in annual shipping trade passes and which is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits.

Its sweeping claims overlap with those of Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

US think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative in August said that Beijing has continued reclamation work near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島).

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