Sunday, May 31, 2015Sunday, May 31, 2015

China opens new route for cruises to Paracel Islands disputed with Vietnam

Published on Sep 2, 2014 10:29 PM

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China is opening a new route for cruise ships to sail to the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, state media reported on Tuesday, in a move that is likely to irritate Vietnam.

The Coconut Princess embarked on Tuesday on its maiden voyage to the islands from Sanya, a city popular with tourists in the southern island province of Hainan.

Ties between the two Communist neighbours have been strained this year by a dispute over a Chinese oil rig dispatched to disputed waters that triggered a wave of anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam.

China claims 90 per cent of the potentially energy rich South China Sea. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan lay claim to parts of the sea, through which passes about US$5 trillion (S$6.25 trillion) of trade a year.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!