In a move that risks increasing regional tensions, China yesterday announced it will invest more than 10 billion yuan (US$1.6 billion) to build infrastructure on disputed islands in the South China Sea and to strengthen marine law enforcement in the region.
Citing Hainan Province Governor Jiang Dingzhi (蔣定之), the Guangzhou-based 21st Century Herald reported that China would build an airport, piers and other important infrastructure on islands administered by Sansha (三沙), a prefecture-level city under Hainan’s jurisdiction that was created in July following approval by the State Council in June.
Located on Woody Island (Yongxing Island, 永興島), the largest island in the Paracels (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) and 350km southeast of Hainan, Sansha “administers” more than 200 islets, sandbanks and reefs and their surrounding waters in the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島), Macclesfield Bank (Zhongsha Islands, 中沙群島) and the Paracel chains.
Some of the construction has already begun, the paper said, without providing details.
The Industrial and Commercial Administration Bureau of Hainan Province announced in September that the establishment of Sansha had caught the attention of investors, with the bureau receiving “multiple queries” about setting up businesses in Sansha.
A construction company and a tourism investment company received approval in August and September respectively, Chinese media said.
According to a report in Caijing magazine, officials in Sansha have been evaluating various commercial development plans, including the establishment of a tax haven and casino resorts.
While serving to create facts on the ground to bolster China’s sovereignty claims in the South China Sea, the investment projects have been a source of tension with other claimants, forcing Beijing to add a security component to the project.
In July, China’s Central Military Commission approved the creation of a military garrison on Sansha.
Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei also have claims to some of the islets. Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島), the largest islet in the Spratlys, is controlled by Taiwan.
According to the Herald, Jiang added that in addition to supporting infrastructure, the funds would be used to acquire marine law enforcement vessels and supply ships.
Under new rules announced last month and which are to come into effect on Tuesday next week, police in Hainan will have the authority to board and seize control of foreign ships that “illegally” enter Chinese waters. It remains unclear whether the directive only pertains to coastal areas near Hainan Island or to the entire body of water administered by Sansha.
Chinese media reported at the time that the government would also send new maritime surveillance ships to supplement the fleet responsible for patrolling the South China Sea.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg
A TAIWAN FIRST: The duo are the first badminton players from Taiwan to climb an Olympic podium, and Tai Tzu-ying has a shot at doing the same today Taiwanese badminton duo Lee Yang (李洋) and Wang Chi-lin (王齊麟) yesterday won the nation’s first Olympic gold medal in the sport when they prevailed over a third-seeded Chinese pair in the final of the men’s doubles at the Tokyo Olympics. Lee and Wang, both first-time Olympians, defeated Liu Yuchen (劉雨辰) and Li Junhui (李俊慧) 21-18, 21-12 in a 34-minute final at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza. As of yesterday, Taiwan had bagged seven medals in Tokyo — two golds, two silvers and three bronzes — topping its previous best of five medals in 2000 and 2004. Taiwan moved to No. 17 in the
NO ‘ONE CHINA’ LIE: The appropriations act passed the US House of Representatives with a vote of 217-212, but still needs Senate approval and the president’s signature The US House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a foreign assistance spending bill with an amendment forbidding that funds be used to create, procure or display maps depicting Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic of China. The amendment was introduced by five Republican representatives — Tom Tiffany, Steve Chabot, Scott Perry, Kat Cammack and Mike Gallagher — and passed unanimously in a bundle with a dozen other amendments. “This is a common sense measure,” Tiffany said, speaking on the House floor on Wednesday. “As we all know, Taiwan has never been part of communist China. The Taiwanese people elect their
‘TEAM TAIWAN’: Taiwanese athletes have performed admirably and raised the nation’s profile, but many abroad still think they are Chinese, an advocate said Advocacy groups have called for the national team to compete under the name “Taiwan” at the Tokyo Olympics, while former Olympian Chi Cheng (紀政) has launched another referendum petition on the issue. Taiwanese athletes have performed outstandingly at the Olympics and have raised the nation’s profile on the world stage, Northern Taiwan Society chairman Lee Chuan-hsin (李川信) said on Friday. “Many foreign news agencies, including Japan’s NHK, have called our delegation ‘Taiwan’ instead of ‘Chinese Taipei.’ Therefore our own people and politicians should also speak of ‘Team Taiwan’ and Taiwanese athletes,” he said. “However, in Taiwan, most of the time the Taiwanese team
THE HOME TEAM: DPP Legislator Kao Chia-yu said she canceled her booking for an AstraZeneca shot as soon as she heard that the Medigen vaccine was an option President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that she would get inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Taiwan-based Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp (高端疫苗). Tsai wrote on Facebook that she had registered for her first vaccine dose using the national online COVID-19 vaccination booking system, which allows people to indicate their preferred vaccine brand and to make an appointment when the shot becomes available. Tsai said that she opted for the Medigen vaccine — one of three now available on the system, along with the AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines — even though Medigen has yet to deliver any doses or provide a