China Dubs Tiny Island a 'City'
It's the latest move in the battle for the South China Sea
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2012 2:20 PM CDT
Representatives cast their votes in the first session of the first Sansha Municipal People's Congress held on Yongxing Island, July 23, 2012.   (AP Photo/Xinhua, Hou Jiansen)
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(Newser) – There's a new city in China. OK, by "city" we mean a patch of land so small it can barely hold a single airstrip, and by "in China" we mean a 13-hour ferry ride from China's southernmost province. Yes, Sansha may not look like much—almost nothing is there save a single post office, supermarket, bank, and hospital—but it makes up for all that in location. Specifically, it's in the heart of the hotly disputed South China Sea, the AP explains.

The Philippines and Vietnam also lay claim to parts of the sea, which is thought to be full of oil. The Philippines says it won't recognize Sansha, or the 770,000 square miles of sea that China claims it has jurisdiction over. Vietnam says China has "violated international law." But China introduced its new city with pomp and circumstance, televising the establishment ceremony, and speeches from the city's new mayor and officials. The name "Sansha," incidentally, means "three sandbanks."