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Beijing begins mapping disputed South China Sea

China Tuesday said it is mapping South China Sea (SCS) with an aim to step up exploration for oil and gas and to reinforce its territorial claims.

Beijing: In the thick of maritime disputes
with several of its neighbours, China Tuesday said it is mapping South China Sea (SCS) with an aim to step up exploration for
oil and gas and to reinforce its territorial claims.

China may step up its exploration of South China Sea to
reinforce its territorial claims following announcement that
geographical surveys of the area are underway, state-run
Global Times reported.

"The majority of the disputed waters used to be beyond
our reach because we seldom put our claims into action," Zhang
Yunling, director of the Institute for International Studies
under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the daily.

"By drawing a map, the country can reinforce its
jurisdiction claim in the South China Sea, and further actions
may follow, such as exploiting resources near the Nansha
Islands," Zhang said.

Located south of China`s coast, SCS is connected with
narrow straits with Pacific Ocean and covers 3.5 million sq km
of the ocean.

China claims the entire SCS as its own. Its claim however
has been contested by Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei
and Taiwan which assert it is part their maritime waters.

Much to China`s chagrin, the US extended tacit support to
the small countries and stepped its presence in the Pacific
region, calling for peaceful resolution of the disputes.

India`s ONGC also drew Beijing`s ire by taking up
exploration in the blocks in SCS claimed by Vietnam.

According to a report released by China`s National
Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geo-information
(NASMG) a working group jointly set up by 13 government
agencies will continue geographical surveying of the South
China Sea and draw a map of the sea or its islands to "declare
China`s stance" on territorial issues.

Similar mapping work will also be carried out on the
Diaoyu Islands and other important areas in the East China
Sea, (ECS) when the time is right, it said.

Diaoyu islands, known as Senkaku islands in Japan are
currently under the administrative control of Tokyo which
zealously reassert its control over the uninhabited islands.

Japan also prohibits fishing by Chinese there which
resulted in several skirmishes in the recent times.

"We are currently carrying out relevant work, and further
details will be released at a proper time," an official with
NASMG`s map management office said.


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