The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines - China has published new maps that for the "first time" put disputed islands in South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) being claimed by the Philippines "in equal scale" to that of Chinese mainland, Xinhua, China's official press agency, reported on Friday. The maps also featured islands in East China Sea being claimed by Japan.
Quoting information from China's National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation, Xinhua said the country had included in its new vertical-format maps over 130 islands and islets in the South China Sea, "most of which have not been featured on previous maps of China."
Also, the report said that a "zoomed illustration" of the Diaoyu or Senkaku Islands being claimed by Japan had been included in the bottom-left corner of the maps "displaying their positional relations and those of their affiliated islets with the Chinese mainland and Taiwan."
In the old horizontal maps, only bigger islands such as the Xisha (Paracel), Zhongsha, and Nansha islands were featured, which were illustrated in the bottom-right corner at half the scale used for the Chinese mainland, the report said quoting Zhou Beiyan, editor of the new maps.
China considers Scarborough or Panatag Shoal (Huangyan Island) as part of Zhongsha Islands. The shoal, located between the Macclesfield Bank and Luzon Island, is being claimed by the Philippines. Also, the Philippines claims portions of Nansha Islands or the Spratly Islands.
The new maps published by China's national map publisher SinoMaps Press will be available to the public by end of January this year.
Xinhua quoted Xu Gencai, chief editor of SinoMaps Press, as saying that the new maps "have marked clearly the major South China Sea islands and demonstrated their geographic relations with surrounding island countries as well as surrounding islands and islets."
The report further said that according to Xu, "the maps will be very significant in enhancing Chinese people's awareness of national territory, safeguarding China's marine rights and interests and manifesting China's political diplomatic stance."
An earlier report by Xinhua said China's national survey on the resources of its territorial islands would start on the first half of the year and would be completed by 2016.
Quoting a circular from China's national conference on maritime affairs, Xinhua said the survey would determine unspecified base points and baselines of the country's territorial waters around the islands.
China will also monitor the geological features of its important islands, including the Xisha, Zhongsha, and Nansha islands in the South China Sea, according to the circular.
The distribution, quantity and quality of the islands' resources and the development potentials of such resources, as well as the islands' major environmental and ecological conditions will also be investigated in the survey, the document said.