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Chinese authorities are speeding up construction work in Sansha, a newly formed city on an islet that is part of the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea). China, Vietnam and Taiwan all claim ownership of the islands. A report posted on China's official web portal Sunday said authorities have mapped out plans for a housing program and infrastructure projects including road construction, water supply and drainage on Yongxing Island, where the city government is seated.
Though the Paracel Islands are not claimed by the Philippines, the development is of concern to the government, as China had said that Sansha City will have jurisdiction over 200 islets, sandbanks and reefs in the Xisha (Paracels), Zhongsha and Nansha (Spratly) island groups. The Philippines claims some of the islands in the Spratlys.
In July, Associated Press quoted Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Raul Hernandez as saying, "The Philippines does not recognize the Sansha City and the extent of its jurisdiction and considers recent measures taken by China as unacceptable." Eugenio Bito-onon Jr., mayor of Kalayaan town in Palawan, said Filipinos settled in the Kalayaan islets in the Spratlys in 1978, whereas China is only now forming the government of Sansha City.Sunday's report on the Chinese government web portal said the infrastructure plans also include seven roads with a total length of 5 km to be repaired or built. A desalinator that can process 1,000 cubic meters of seawater a day will also be built on the island to ensure fresh water supply. Other projects include the construction of inter-island transportation and a dock, as well as the development of Zhaoshu Island. Sansha Mayor Xiao Jie on Saturday announced the beginning of a housing construction program with an investment of 18.7 million yuan ($2.97 million). China set up Sansha officially on Yongxing Island on July 24. Zhang Geng, executive vice mayor of Sansha, said the government has been working to build the island into a city of harmony between human and nature. — LBG/BM, GMA News