China eyes eight cruise ships to serve South China Sea

A general view of a building and a pier on Da Tay island in the Spratly archipelago January 6, 2013. REUTERS/Quang Le/File Photo

A general view of a building and a pier on Da Tay island in the Spratly archipelago January 6, 2013. REUTERS/Quang Le/File Photo

Up to eight Chinese ships will offer cruises to the South China Sea over the next five years, a state-run newspaper said on Thursday, as Beijing continues to promote tourism to the disputed waters.

Sanya International Cruise Development Co Ltd, a joint venture by COSCO Shipping, China National Travel Service (HK) Group Corp and China Communications Construction Co Ltd, will buy between five and eight ships, the official China Daily reported.

It will also build four cruise liner docks in Sanya, a Chinese resort city on the southern island province of Hainan, the paper added.

Liu Junli, chairman of Sanya International Cruise, said the company is already operating the “Dream of the South China Sea” cruise ship and plans to add another two cruise ships by next summer, the report said.

The ships will travel to the Crescent group of islands, part of the Paracels, and is also “considering a cruise around the South China Sea at the appropriate time”, it added.

Hotels, villas and shops will all be built on the Crescent group, the paper said.

It is not clear if foreigners will be allowed on these cruises or if they will be allowed to visit China’s holdings in the South China Sea.

China claims 90 percent 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 $5 trillion of trade a year

Countries competing to cement their rival claims have encouraged a growing civilian presence on disputed islands in the South China Sea. The first cruises from China to the Paracel islands were launched by Hainan Strait Shipping Co in 2013.

Beijing has also said it wants to build Maldives-style resorts around the South China Sea.

China has refused to recognize a ruling by an arbitration court in The Hague that invalidated its vast territorial claims in the South China Sea and did not take part in the proceedings brought by the Philippines.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry)

Source: Reuters “China eyes eight cruise ships to serve South China Sea”


One Comment on “China eyes eight cruise ships to serve South China Sea”

  1. Joseph says:

    Like it or not, those artificial islands will become economic hot spot in the region. Everyone, including American business community, would want to invest there. Already, Chinese tourists have become strategic bargaining points for China’s diplomatic mission. They will surely be an economic force to be reckoned with in those artificial islands. However, they should be the reason for Chinese military to increase presence in the area. With American ships prowling in the area, they could easily stage ‘military incident’ to cause civilian casualties the way they shot down Iranian civilian in the Persian gulf in the 1980s. In the past the American had proven time and again that Chinese lifes were nothing to them. Pirates would be another factor to consider. Even a slightest lack of security would make tourist industry an easy target. In the past, Philippines’ US-trained soldiers had been known to attack Chinese tourists, with a major attack on a Hongkong tourists bus. Similar event could happen on sea. State-sponsored piracy may be a cheap weapon for bankrupt nations. After all, the American had been known to use the service of SE Asia pirates for covert operations, which was the reason why the American let them loose, when they claimed to be in control on American-controled Pacific.