China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday (March 22) denied reports that China will begin preparatory work this year for an environmental monitoring station on the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea.
China seized the shoal, which is northeast of the Spratly Islands, in 2012 and denied access to Philippine fishermen. But after President Rodrigo Duterte visited China last year, it allowed them to return to the traditional fishing area.
Earlier this month, Xiao Jie, the mayor of what China calls Sansha City, said China planned to begin preparatory work this year to build environmental monitoring stations on a number of islands, including Scarborough Shoal.
Xiao Jie’s comments about the plans as quoted by the state-backed Hainan Daily had been amended to remove mention of the shoal in the paper’s online version when checked by Reuters on Wednesday.