[PHOTO - The Great Hall of the People, the venue of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, is seen reflected in a window of a bus as a delegate leaves after a meeting in Beijing, China. The Communist Party of China will unveil a new slate of leaders in this once-a-decade power transition. Photo by Carlos Barria, Reuters]

BEIJING, NOVEMBER 12, 2012 (ABS-CBN) Agence France Presse - China is to ramp up development on a disputed South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) island, a local government chief has said, in a move likely to stoke a growing territorial row with its neighbors.

The development of roads, water supply and drainage systems will be stepped-up in the new "capital" city of Sansha on Yongxing, one of the islands that make up the disputed Paracel chain, Luo Baoming, Communist Party secretary of southern Hainan Province told state television on Saturday.

Luo also said steps will also be taken to enforce China's "legal rights" in the region, which includes other island chains which are the subject of competing claims by Asian countries.

Beijing enraged Vietnam and caused concern in Washington when it announced the establishment of a new city and military garrison at Sansha in July.

The island, under the control of Hainan Province, will have administrative control over a region that encompasses not only the Paracels, but Macclesfield Bank, a largely sunken atoll to the east, and the Spratly Islands to the south.

The sovereignty of each remains a matter of dispute.

"To safeguard our legal rights in the South China Sea, we are now coordinating between the relevant departments in order to set a more unified, and efficient law enforcing body," Luo said.

Domestic media reported in August that work had begun on sewage disposal and waste collection facilities for the island's roughly 1,000 residents.

Beijing claims most of the West Philippine Sea, which is home to vital shipping lanes and substantial proven and estimated oil and gas deposits.

Taiwan and ASEAN members the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia all have rival claims on areas of the sea, while the United States is also watching China's increased assertiveness closely.

The announcement in July that Sansha would be established led to a formal protest being lodged by Vietnam, which said it violates international law.

The Philippines, which is involved in a dispute over the Spratly Islands, summoned the Chinese ambassador to lodge a complaint against the garrison announcement.

China oil giant finds "big" gas field in South China Sea Reuters Posted at 11/09/2012 5:52 PM | Updated as of 11/09/2012 5:52 PM

BEIJING - China's CNOOC Ltd has found a "big" gas field in Yinggehai basin of the South China Sea, the chairman of its parent company said, as the offshore oil and gas specialist accelerates developing the vast but under-explored waters.

"What I can report today is that it's a big gas field," Wang Yilin, chairman of China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), said on Friday at the Communist Party Congress in Beijing.

Wang did not elaborate, saying the size of the reserve is being evaluated by the state. A gas reserve of at least 50 billion cubic metres, or about 1.6 trillion cubic feet, is typically considered a major discovery.

Two industry officials said Wang could be referring to Dongfang 13-2, where CNOOC drillers tested in August more than 1 million cubic metres of daily gas output at a single well, making it one of the largest gas discoveries offshore China.

Yinggehai basin, in northwestern part of the South China Sea, is mostly rich in gas not oil, experts say.

China claims almost all the South China Sea, a body of water believed to hold rich oil and gas resources and which stretches from China to Indonesia and from Vietnam to the Philippines.

Six parties - China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia - are involved in a complex set of territorial disputes in the sea.

CNOOC has also made a major oil find with geological reserves of about 100 million tonnes in the Bohai Sea, off north China, Wang said, adding that the proven ratio in the Bohai area remained low at less than 25 percent.

Earlier this year, appraisal works showed Penglai 9-1 field in Bohai yielded 1.1 million cubic metres daily oil output, according to a statement posted at CNOOC's website. (

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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