By Mahmut Atanur
BEIJING (AA) – China has announced plans to deploy a station for an advanced rescue ship in the South China Sea, as it efforts to expedite the building of civilian and military structures in disputed areas of the waters.
China Daily cited political commissar Chen Xingguang from the rescue vessel Nanhaijiu 118 as saying Monday that local authorities are planning to deploy a base station after June.
"Our bureau is planning a duty post in the Nansha Islands, with a ship based there. This will possibly be carried out in the second half of the year," Chen said.
He did not specify which island in the sea the ship will be based at.
Captain Wang Wensong told the Daily that the ship will be equipped with advanced rescue facilities, such as drones and underwater robots.
China considers almost all of the maritime area its territory, but the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan also have overlapping claims.
China's reclamation work in the region, which includes the building of airfields on some disputed islands, has prompted the U.S. and its allies to express alarm over the maritime expansion, which they suspect is aimed at extending its military reach.
China has accused Washington of "militarizing" the region.
The sea, thought to have large oil and gas deposits, is a critical asset for global shipping and fishing that sees more than $5 trillion in maritime trade every year.