China to Construct Monitoring Station on Disputed Shoal in South China Sea: Report
China plans to consolidate its construction activities further in the disputed South China Sea region by announcing that it will soon construct an environmental monitoring station on the Scarborough Shoal. The announcement comes amid fresh allegations by Philippines over Beijing's recent aggressive actions in the disputed waterways.
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The news was revealed by Xiao Jie, the mayor of Sansha City, in an interview to Hainan Daily news paper. Xiao's comments assume importance as Sansha City is considered as the administrative base of the almost all the islands and reefs controlled by China in the disputed South China Sea.
The monitoring stations, along with docks and other infrastructure, constitute part of island restoration and erosion prevention efforts slated for 2017, Xiao told the Hainan Daily.
The Philippines has so far declined to comment on the report, saying that it was trying best to verify the reports. But the news will certainly come as a setback for President Rodrigo Duterte's efforts to ties with China.
Since his historic visit to China last year, Duterte and his ministers have been busy seeking promise from Beijing that it would not carry any further constructions and will also allow Filipino fishermen to access the Scarborough Shoal.
Analysts say that China's concessions on Scarborough Shoal will help Duterte to convince its local constituency that friendship with its bitter and long time rival is not a bad thing at all.
China seized the Scarborough Shoal in 2012, following a long military stand-off with Manila. Taiwan is another clamant that stakes claim over this disputed Shoal.
The news about China's latest construction activities in South China Sea region coincides with Rex Tillerson's maiden visit to China that will begin on Saturday. The sensitive North Korea and South China Sea issues are likely to dominate Tillerson's meeting with Chinese leadership, including President Xi Jingping.
At his confirmation hearing in senate in January, Tillerson called on China to immediately stop all the construction activities across the artificial islands. He compared China's artificial island building with Russia's forceful conquest of Crimea.