South China Sea: China to promote tourism in disputed waters, to buy 8 cruise liners

Eight Chinese ships would travel to the Crescent group of islands which are a part of the Paracels.

Over the next five years, at least eight Chinese ships will offer trips to the South China Sea, a state-run newspaper said on Thursday, as China continues to promote tourism to the disputed waters.

The official China Daily reported Sanya International Cruise Development Co Ltd and China Communications Construction Co Ltd will buy between five and eight ships for this purpose.

The paper also reported Beijing will build four cruise liner docks in Sanya, a Chinese resort city located on the southern island province of Hainan.

Liu Junli, chairman of Sanya International Cruise, a joint venture by COSCO Shipping, China National Travel Service (HK) Group Corp, said the company is already operating the "Dream of the South China Sea" cruise ship. The report added that by next summer they have plans to add two more cruise ships.

These ships would travel to the Crescent group of islands which are part of the Paracels. The company is also "considering a cruise around the South China Sea at the appropriate time". Hotels, villas and shops will be built on the Crescent group for the visitors.

However, it is not clear whether foreigners will be allowed to visit China's holdings in the disputed waters.

China claims almost 90 percent of the South China Sea while on other hand, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also claim to have rights in parts of the sea.

China refused to accept an arbitration court's ruling in The Hague that rejected its vast territorial claims in the South China Sea. It did not even take part in the proceedings brought by the Philippines.