China defiant, offers cruises on disputed sea

CHINA announced Thursday that a Chinese company will boost tourism by offering cruises around the contested South China Sea and buy eight new ships over the next five years for that purpose.

The state-owned China Daily said Sanya International Cruise Development Co. Ltd. will buy between five and eight ships and build four cruise liner docks in Sanya, a Chinese resort city on the island province of Hainan.

Liu Junli, chairman of Sanya International Cruise, said the company already operates the "Dream of the South China Sea" cruise ship and plans to add another two cruise ships by next summer, the report said.

The ships will travel to the Crescent group of islands, part of the Paracels, and is also "considering a cruise around the South China Sea at the appropriate time," it added.

Hotels, villas and shops will all be built on the Crescent group, the paper said.

Since 2012, China has taken control of Scarborough Shoal and has reclaimed at least five islands in the disputed region, including the city that they have established called "Sansha City."

Over the past years, China has been constructing schools, hospitals, an airport runway and other building blocks in Sansha City to assert their so-called historical rights to the sea.

The Chinese government has also approved rules where China's local patrol police have the right to board and search foreign vessels entering the South China Sea.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said he was unaware of the China Daily report and said it needed to be verified.

China has been claiming 90 percent or almost the whole South China Sea citing its nine-dash line of its so called ancient Chinese map.

The Philippines challenged this claim before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in January 2013, and won a favorable decision in July.

China has rejected the ruling and vowed it will "never stop" the construction on the disputed territories.

Aside from the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan has overlapping claims over parts of the South China Sea.

So far, only the Philippines has filed a case against China.

Source: The Standard