Sunday 24 September 2017

China bids for ocean control with new island city

Protesters hold banners while chanting slogans during an anti-China protest along a street in Hanoi July 22, 2012. Photo: Reuters
Protesters hold banners while chanting slogans during an anti-China protest along a street in Hanoi July 22, 2012. Photo: Reuters

Malcolm Moore in Beijing

China founded a city yesterday more than 200 miles from the mainland in an attempt to cement control over 800,000sqm of the South China Sea.

Sansha is based on Yongxing Dao, or Woody Island, a heart-shaped tropical island just over 1.5km long.

It is shorter than its airport runway, which juts out to sea.

China's 658th city, as classified by the country's state council, has a population of a few hundred fishermen, a post office, library, bank, supermarket and hospital and not much else.

Plans for a casino are being drawn up to help attract tourists.

Army

But it will have 45 government officials to run the city, its own mayor and a Communist Party secretary who has spent his career in the army.

It will also have a military garrison, responsible for "national defence mobilisation . . . and carrying out military missions".

From here, China expects to administer almost the entire South China Sea area, including both the Paracel and Spratly island chains.

That pits it against Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei, all of which claim sovereignty over parts of the region.

Military analysts suggest the city is a worrying sign of China's determination to face off against the US, which has pivoted its military focus back towards Asia. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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