China plans to build an environmental monitoring station in the Scarborough Shoal located in the Western Philippine Sea which potentially raising new concerns over Beijing’s actions to assert its claims in the strategically crucial waterbody.
The Hainan Daily newspaper quoted the top official in Sansha City that administers China’s island claims, saying such stations were being built on six islands and reefs, including Scarborough Shoal off the northwestern Philippines.
Sansha Communist Party Secretary Xiao Jie told the paper that preparatory work on the stations was among the government’s priorities for 2017, but gave no other details.
Beijing seized tiny, uninhabited Scarborough in 2012 after a prolonged standoff with Philippine vessels. Taiwan also includes the island in its South China Sea claims.
The other stations mentioned by Xiao would be situated on features in the Paracel island group that China has controlled since seizing parts away from Vietnam in 1974.