BEIJING (Sputnik) — According to the South China Morning Post newspaper, the authorities of China's southern Hainan province are trying to get the approval from the central authorities and the military to organize the tours.
Tourists have been allowed to visit the Paracel Islands on cruise ships since April 2013. On Friday, China reportedly launched a new cruise ship capable of carrying 499 people.
The South China Sea area, where Paracel Islands are located, is a disputed region claimed by Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam, as it is believed that it has vast energy resources. Chinese authorities claim 90 percent of the area and have repeatedly said that the country's activities in the region are China's sovereign right.