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China to send tourists to Xisha Islands

China,Business/Economy,Defence/Security,Politics, Thu, 05 Apr 2012 IANS

Beijing, April 5 (IANS) China is going to open its Xisha Islands to tourists in a bid to reassert its sovereignty over a scattering of islands and reefs in the South China Sea.


According to the National Tourism Administration, a luxury cruise ship named Coconut Princess will take tourists from Haikou and Sanya cities to the islands, China National Radio reported.


However, only Yongxing, the biggest of the islands, is suitable for landing.


There are neither mobile phone signals nor Internet access on the island, but visitors can make a phone call in a post office on the island, the Shanghai Daily quoted the radio as saying.


The cruise is likely to be launched this year. In the next stage, the ship will go to other uninhabited islands in the South China Sea.


"The Xisha Islands tourism plan enables us to guard the frontier and stake our claims to these islands," said Wang Zhifa, deputy director of the National Tourism Administration.


Located southeast of Hainan, these are 22 islands, seven sandbanks and a dozen reefs. Its scenery is comparable to that of the Maldives.


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