Saturday 18 November 2017

China bids for ocean control with new island city

Malcolm Moore in Beijing

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

Sansha is based on Yongxing Dao, or Woody Island, a heart-shaped island barely a mile 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. A casino is planned to drum up tourism.

Military

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, 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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