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China to start regular patrols from island in South China Sea

Published on Jan 21, 2014 3:00 PM

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China will base a 5,000-tonne civilian patrol ship on one of the main islands it controls in the disputed South China Sea and begin regular patrols, an official newspaper said on Tuesday, a move likely to add fuel to territorial disputes with neighbours.

The China Ocean News, published by the State Oceanic Administration, said the ship would be based on Woody Island, which China calls Sansha city, on the Paracel Islands.

China will "gradually establish a regular patrol system on Sansha city to jointly protect the country's maritime interests", the report added. It will continue to build infrastructure on the island as well as a "joint platform for sharing maritime security data", it said.

China is in an increasingly angry dispute with its neighbours over claims to parts of the potentially oil and gas-rich South China Sea. China lays claim to almost the whole of the sea, which is criss-crossed by crucial shipping lanes.

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