The online news portal of TV5
ANILA, Philippines - China bolstered its claim over disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) with the establishment of a "prefectural-level" city to exercise jurisdiction over three disputed islands, Chinese state media reported.
Xinhua, quoting a statement from the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs, said the State Council, or China's cabinet, had approved the establishment of Sansha City, which will administer the island groups of Xisha (Paracels), Zhongsha and Nansha (Spratlys). The seat ofgovernment will be stationed on Yongxing Island, which is a part of Paracels.
A Ministry of Civil Affairs spokesperson said Thursday that Sansha City would help improve China's "administrative management on Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha islands and their future development."
"It is also conducive to protecting the oceanic environment of theSouth China Sea," the spokesperson said.
Prior to the establishment of Sansha City, the three disputed islands were under the Administration Office for the Xisha Islands, the Nansha Islands and the Zhongsha Islands.
China elevated the status to city status after Vietnam passed its Vietnamese maritime law.
China claimsthat it was the one who first discovered and named the reefs, islets, and surrounding waters of these disputed islands.
China put up the Administration Office for the Xisha, Zhongsha, and Nansha Islands in 1959.
China's statement came as it protested the Vietnamese law that placed the Spratly and Paracel islands under the sovereignty of Hanoi.
China and Vietnam, as well as other neighbouring nations, are locked in a long-standing territorial disputes over the South China Sea, including the mineral-rich Spratly and Paracel islands.
Aside from China, Vietnam and Taiwan also claim sovereignty over the Paracel Islands. The islands consist of over 30 islets, sandbanks or reefs.
Meanwhile, an extended part of the Zhongsha Islands include the Scarborough Shoal, where the Philippines and China are currently locked in a territorial dispute. The Spratlys is also another disputed island where the Philippines also has a claim on.