China is to ramp up development on a disputed South China Sea island, a local government chief has said, in a move likely to stoke a growing territorial row with its neighbors.
The development of roads, water supply and drainage systems will be stepped-up in the new “capital” city of Sansha on Yongxing, one of the islands that make up the disputed Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島), Luo Baoming (羅保銘), Communist Party secretary of Chinese Hainan Province told state TV on Saturday. The islands are also claimed by Taiwan.
Luo also said steps will also be taken to enforce China’s “legal rights” in the region, which includes other island chains that are the subject of competing claims by Asian countries.
Beijing enraged Vietnam and caused concern in Washington when it announced the establishment of a new city and military garrison at Sansha in July.
The island, under the control of Hainan Province, will have administrative control over a region that encompasses not only the Paracels, but Macclesfield Bank, a largely sunken atoll to the east, and the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島), also claimed by Taiwan, to the south.
The sovereignty of each remains a matter of dispute.
“To safeguard our legal rights in the South China Sea, we are now coordinating between the relevant departments in order to set a more unified and efficient law-enforcing body,” Luo said.
Domestic media reported in August that work had begun on sewage disposal and waste collection facilities for the island’s roughly 1,000 residents.