Beijing building 'Chinese Maldives' in disputed Paracels ( Source- Want China Times)

Image credits- Xinhua
Source- Want China Times

China is seeking to create its own version of the Maldives in the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, reports Hong Kong's Oriental Daily.

To boost local tourism, China has already begun a series of constructions on several islands and reefs in the Crescent Group of the Paracels, which are controlled by China but also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

According to mainland reports, Drummond island will have a new rescue center, a fishermen settlement and infrastructure to provide wireless internet. Various types of machinery and construction equipment have already been transported to the island along with dozens of workers, reports added.

A Chinese official was quoted as saying that construction of basic ports will commence on five islands and reefs in the Crescent Group this year, and that each island will have its own distinguishing characteristic.

For example, Antelope Reef will focus on cultivating pearls, while Robert island will have a historical museum. Yagong island will target fine dining and Drummond island will build luxury resorts, while the Observation Bank will be aimed at diving enthusiasts.

Tourism in the Paracels has already been ramping up in recent years, with reports showing that as many as five recreational fishing businesses have been set up on the more popular islands such as Yagong and Quanfu, where tourists can catch their own fresh lobster and grouper.

The Paracels are officially administered by the Hainan city of Sansha, which was established in July 2012 — to the opposition of Vietnam and the Philippines — for the purpose of safeguarding what China claims as national sovereignty and protection and development of South China Sea resources.

The latest plans to turn the disputed archipelago into a Chinese tourism destination is likely to spark more controversy given that Beijing is already under fire for its expansive land reclamation activities in the South China Sea's Spratly Islands, which are claimed in part or whole by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

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