CHINA is building a nuclear plant to provide power to its artificial islands and “conquer the disputed South China Sea”, according to reports.
Beijing claims nearly all of the sea and has been turning reefs in the Spratly and Paracel chains into islands, installing military facilities where neighbours contest its claims.
And the superpower is now constructing a floating nuclear power plant, according to a report in the state-run People’s Daily.
The facility is intended to provide power for those living in the Sansha city area.
Sansha lies on Woody Island in the Paracel chain – which is also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan – and administers much of China’s claims in the South China Sea.
China established Sansha in 2012 by unilaterally awarding it 1.25million square miles of sea and declaring it the country’s largest city.
The same report revealed the large-scale land reclamation in the region was “moving ahead steadily”.
And it announced China was on track to use giant “island-builders” to transform even more of the region.
The projects have “completely changed the face of the South China Sea’s islands and reefs”, the report boasted.
The aggressive campaign has been a source of friction with neighbouring countries.
China’s sweeping claims overlap with those of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as Taiwan.
The country built 29 hectares of facilities on South China Sea reefs and islands in 2017, including underground storage, administrative buildings and large radar installations, the report said.
It announced: “To improve the livelihood and work conditions of people living on the islands – and strengthen the necessary military defences of the South China Sea within China’s sovereignty – China has rationally expanded the area of its islands and reefs.”
The sea is believed to hold vast oil and gas deposits and £3.7trillion in annual trade passes through it.
The report noted that with last month’s introduction of the new super-dredger Tianjing, a “magical island building machine”, and other “magical machines” soon to come, “the area of the South China Sea’s islands and reefs will expand a step further”.
Earlier this month a US think-tank released new satellite images showing deployment of radar and other equipment on the disputed islands.