Sansha has its administrative center on Yongxing (Woody) island. (File photo/Xinhua)
China's major shipbuilding conglomerate will start infrastructure, energy and water resources projects in Sansha, the city recently established to oversee islands in the South China Sea, local officials said Tuesday.
The Sansha municipal government on Monday signed a package of cooperative agreements with China Shipbuilding Industry, the state-owned conglomerate that engages in manufacturing and scientific research in a number of maritime industries.
Details of the agreements were not immediately available, but officials said enhanced cooperation on key projects in infrastructure development, energy and water resources is expected.
The aim of the deals, the officials said, is "to safeguard sovereignty and serve the country's maritime power strategy."
Sansha is China's youngest city, specifically set up to administer the island groups comprising the Spratly and Paracel islands and Macclesfield Bank, with its administrative center based on Woody (Yongxing) island, which is under Chinese control. The Paracels are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan, Macclesfield Bank by the Philippines and Taiwan, and the Spratlys in whole or in part by Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. The area is believed to contain major reserves of offshore oil and gas.
Development has sped up in recent months on the islands as China seeks to drop its anchor firmly into the controversial waters. As Sansha residents have been relying on fresh water transported from Hainan province, construction on a desalinator has begun. When completed in December 2013, it will supply clean water to nearby islets and reefs, as well as passing ships.