China to start regular patrols from island in South China Sea

BEIJING Tue Jan 21, 2014 5:17am EST

Chinese naval soldiers stand guard on China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning, as it travels towards a military base in Sanya, Hainan province, in this undated picture made available on November 30, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

Chinese naval soldiers stand guard on China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning, as it travels towards a military base in Sanya, Hainan province, in this undated picture made available on November 30, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China will base a 5,000-tonne civilian patrol ship on one of the main islands it controls in the disputed South China Sea and begin regular patrols, an official newspaper said on Tuesday, a move likely to add fuel to territorial disputes with neighbors.

The China Ocean News, published by the State Oceanic Administration, said the ship would be based on Woody Island, which China calls Sansha city, on the Paracel Islands.

China will "gradually establish a regular patrol system on Sansha city to jointly protect the country's maritime interests", the report added. It will continue to build infrastructure on the island as well as a "joint platform for sharing maritime security data", it said.

China is in an increasingly angry dispute with its neighbors over claims to parts of the potentially oil and gas-rich South China Sea. China lays claim to almost the whole of the sea, which is criss-crossed by crucial shipping lanes.

It upset the Philippines and the United States this month when rules went into force demanding fishing boats seek permission to enter waters under the jurisdiction of China's southern province of Hainan, an area the provincial government says covers much of the South China Sea.

Chinese patrols in the South China Sea are generally conducted by civilian vessels, though China's navy routinely carries out drills there, including late last year by the country's first aircraft carrier.

The newspaper did not say when the patrols would begin, though said one of their focuses would be on search and rescue operations and the "speedy, orderly and effective emergency response to sudden incidents at sea".

Separately, the Beijing Times newspaper said that China would build the world's largest maritime surveillance vessel, a 10,000-tonne ship that it said would be larger than an equivalent Japanese ship, currently the world's largest surveillance vessel.

The report did not say when the ship would enter service.

China formally approved the establishment of a military garrison in Sansha two years ago. Sansha administers the mostly uninhabited islands in the South China Sea which China claims.

China took full control of the Paracels - a cluster of close to 40 islets, outcrops and reefs - in 1974 after a naval showdown with the then South Vietnam, and there have been incidents ever since. Taiwan also claims the Paracels.

Vietnam has accused China of harassing and even opening fire on fishing boats near the Paracels, charges Beijing has either denied or defended as a legitimate means of protecting its sovereignty.

Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines also claim other parts of the South China Sea, including the Spratly Islands. China has a separate dispute with Japan in the East China Sea.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Huang Yan; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Comments (2)
Litchima wrote:
I feel sick reading the little built-in lies in almost every paragraphs. I have to admit that this is a model of what we call propaganda.

Jan 21, 2014 11:34am EST  --  Report as abuse
MrWowFire wrote:
China is getting ready, and quite prepared, to negotiate with Vietnam on island issues in the South China Sea.This is precisely the example to watch in settling dispute over ownership of some islands. Patrolling is to make sure no further complication will happen while negotiating. I am not sure what the Philippine government will do with respect to talks with China, but it is clear that negotiation is a much better way to handle the issues. The aim is to reach some win win solution for the parties involved. Sometimes, some islands are claimed by more than 2 parties, and that is more important to have talks between claimants.

If the US is in China’s position, what would the US do?

Jan 24, 2014 9:51pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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