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China to Send Tourists to Disputed Islands
April 7, 2013

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China is accelerating its ownership claims of a set of islands, despite assertions by other countries that they are the rightful owners.

The dispute, not unlike that between Japan and Taiwan and China over a group of islands in the East China Sea, has heightened tensions in the region. The latest announcement from China is that a large cruise ship capable of holding nearly 2,000 passengers was set to sail for the islands, which are called Xisha by China and Hoang Sa by Vietnam.

Unlike the more northerly set of islands, these islands, which are also called Paracel in English-speaking countries, have some semblance of settlement. One of islands has an airport, a hospital, and some tourist accommodation, although not large enough to cater to the Chinese tourists who would look for overnight housing.

China does officially own the islands, as the result of a 1974 military struggle between the two countries. Still, Vietnam has controlled at least one of the large islands since the end of World War II.

The island ownership dispute is a part of a larger row between the two countries over fishing rights.

Taiwan also claims to own the islands.



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