21:35 GMT +322 November 2019
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    This April 5, 2016 photo provided by China's Xinhua News Agency shows the lighthouse on Zhubi Reef in the South China Sea

    Another Sign of Clout: China Unveils New Lighthouse on Disputed Spratlys

    © AP Photo / Xing Guangli/Xinhua via AP
    Asia & Pacific
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    Beijing has reportedly started to operate a new lighthouse on one of its contested man-made islands in the South China Sea.

    In a sign of its increasing influence in the contested South China Sea, Beijing announced the completion of the construction of a lighthouse on Zhubi Reef in the disputed Spratly archipelago, media reports said.

    According to the Chinese news agency Xinhua, the country's Transport Ministry held a ceremony on Tuesday to celebrate the completion of the 55-meter-high facility.

    "The lighthouse emits white light in the nighttime, with a light range of 22 nautical miles and a glowing cycle of five seconds," Xinhua said.

    The facility is equipped with an automatic identification system and very high frequency stations which Xinhua said will help "provide efficient navigation services such as positioning reference, route guidance and navigation safety information to ships."

    Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.file photo
    © REUTERS / US Navy
    Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.file photo

    In 2015, the Chinese Transport Ministry announced plans to construct an array of large multi-purpose lighthouses on the Spratly Islands, in a bid to improve the maritime emergency response in the area.

    Overall, China claims over 80 percent of the South China Sea as its own. The United States has repeatedly warned that it does not recognize Chinese claims of sovereignty over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

    Countries located in the South China Sea area, including Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam, have expressed competing claims to the disputed Spratly Islands.

    The United States has conducted two "freedom of navigation" operations in the South China Sea since October 2015. Last month, the Philippines agreed to give US forces access to several military bases, some of which are close to the disputed territories.

    Meeting his US counterpart Barack Obama on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping specifically warned against violating his country's sovereignty and undermining its national interests under the pretext of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.


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