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The new ship dwarfs coastguard vessels from other nations based in the highly disputed waters where China’s military presence continues to increase. The ship will enter service with the Ministry of Transport’s South China Sea Rescue Bureau.
On Monday, a subsidiary of state-owned China State Shipbuilding Corporation announced they had completed work on the ship and had successfully installed stabilising components for the search and rescue (SAR) vessel.
According to a press release on the China Merchant Industrial Holdings’ website, a contract to construct the ship was signed between the South China Sea Rescue Bureau and a subsidiary of the China Merchants Group back in November.
The signing ceremony was reportedly overseen by the South China Sea Rescue Bureau’s Party Secretary, Zhuang Zeping.
Technical plans and designs for the ship are expected to be completed this month.
Known as the 14,000 Kilowatt Large Cruiser Rescue Ship, it is reportedly set to be roughly 450-feet-long, 88 feet wide and 36 feet deep, according to Radio Free Asia.
If these measurements are accurate, the ship would be the largest and most powerful operated by China’s search and rescue service.
It is also reported to be the most advanced SAR vessel in China’s fleet with the ability to haul shipwrecks out of the sea with a 133-ton crane.
The China Rescue Service (CRS) solely focuses on maritime rescue or salvaging after accidents at sea involving other ships and civilians.
The South China Sea Rescue Bureau has set up regional bases on disputed rocks and islands in the region, including Fiery Cross Reef.
According to state media, there have been four rescue missions since the establishment of the rescue base on Fiery Cross Reef.
Most recently, the CRS rescued a fishing boat that became ground in the Paracel Islands.
This rescue took place after Vietnam resisted China’s decision to kick its fisherman out of the sea earlier this month.
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China hit out at Vietnam’s fishing protest in the South China Sea days after Beijing issued a ban on trawlers in part of the disputed waters.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said its neighbour had no right to comment on the annual summer prohibition on fishing, insisting China had every right to issue such a ban.
The two countries have for years been embroiled in a bitter dispute over the stretch of water.
The area is known to the Vietnamese as the East Sea.
The stretch which is home to more than 200 specks of land is potentially rich in energy.
Le Thi Thu Hang, a spokeswoman for Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry, said: “Vietnam demands that China not further complicate the situation in the South China Sea.”
The annual ban sees more than 50,000 fishing boats forced to suspend their operations.
The South China Sea region is a disputed territory where it faces rival ownership claims from China, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan.
Diplomatic relations between the nations, which have laid claim to the islands, are already extremely strained.
The recent construction of bunkers on some of the atolls points to China preparing to “protection against air or missile strikes”, raising the prospect of a potential conflict, sparking World War 3 fears.
The islands and surrounding reefs have been the subject of a bitter and long-running territorial dispute, with China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines all laying claim to parts of the archipelago.
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