China has begun building sewage and waste disposal facilities on a disputed South China Sea island, State media said on Monday, a move likely to stoke a growing territorial row with its neighbours.
The report in the China Daily came a month after Beijing enraged Vietnam by announcing the establishment of the new "capital" city of Sansha on Yongxing, one of the islands that make up the disputed Paracel chain.
‘To irrigate’ greenbelt
The sewage network will help irrigate the greenbelt, the China Daily quoted authorities as saying.
"The city government said the projects aim to strengthen environmental protection and improve living conditions for residents and servicemen stationed on the islands," the China Daily said.
"It will also help the diversity of marine species and promote the fishery industry."
Beijing claims most of the South China Sea, which is home to vital shipping lanes and substantial proven and estimated oil and gas deposits. Taiwan and ASEAN members including the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia all have rival claims on areas of the sea, while the United States is also watching China's increased assertiveness closely.
Sparsely populated Sansha is China's smallest city in terms of population and land size. Most of its residents are fishermen and their families.AFP