Beijing to Launch Cruise Ship in South China Sea for Tourism

China is adding a new cruise ship to the tropical paradise of pristine beaches on the disputed South China Sea’s (SCS) islands, (Paracel Islands) in December to promote tourism.

It is reported that the new cruise ship, Nanhai Zhi Meng, has a capacity of 893 people. The maiden voyage is expected to start in late December from Sanya to Yongle Islands. These islands are administered by China’s newly-built city, Sansha, in the South China Sea, which is in the Hainan province.

This cruise ship owned by Nanhai Cruises Company had finished a trial voyage. It also saw hot ticket sales since the time the booking opened in late November. The trip is expected to take four days. It would visit the islands of Yinyu, Quanfu, and Yagong in the Xisha (Paracel) Islands. The ship’s voyage would be scheduled four to six times each month.

The Paracel Islands are reportedly claimed also by Vietnam. There is a cluster of islets, sandbanks, and reefs south-east of the Hainan Island. The islands are featured with pristine beauty and ecosystem. The Sansha city on Yongxing Island, which is one of the Xisha Islands, was founded in July 2012 by China to extend its writ over the area. It is reported that the city envisages tourism as a step-stone to its economic development. It administers three island groups, that is, Xisha, Zhongshan, and Nansha, which also includes the surrounding waters in the South China Sea.

There is another cruise ship which is owned by the Hainan Strait Shipping company which has offered cruises along the route since April 2013. It is reported that so far 23,000 tourists have taken the tour. The new cruise ship is expected to attract more tourists to Sansha. China’s claims over the South China Sea which is featured to be resource-rich is contested by Vietnam, Philippines, Brunei, Taiwan, and Malaysia.

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