HONG KONG--In a move aimed at strengthening China’s sovereignty claims over disputed maritime territories, a Chinese meteorological bureau started issuing weather forecasts for the waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands.
In addition, China began releasing weather forecasts for three islands in the South China Sea that are claimed by the Philippines.
The start of the weather forecasts came days before the Chinese State Council's "regulation on the management of maritime observation and forecasting" takes effect on June 1. The regulation is intended to intensify observations in China's territorial waters and maritime areas under China's control.
The Senkakus, a group of uninhabited islands and reefs in the East China Sea, are administered by Japan but are claimed by China, which calls them the Diaoyu Islands, as well as Taiwan.
Chinese meteorological authorities in the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian are acquiring observational data on the waters surrounding the islands, using vessels, measurement buoys, weather satellites and other equipment.
One-week forecasts on the weather, wind directions and speeds, wave heights and other items are being broadcast 18 times a day on the radio.
The Fujian Meteorological Bureau posted an article on its website in mid-May, saying its forecasts were being well received by fishermen from Fujian province and Taiwan. A number of Chinese domestic news outlets have also been carrying the reports.
The meteorological bureau of the southern province of Hainan said on May 25 that it started releasing weather forecasts for the Scarborough Reef (known as Huangyan Island in Chinese), the Fiery Cross Reef (Yongshu Reef) in the Spratly Islands, and Woody Island (Yongxing Island) in the Paracel Islands.
China and the Philippines are at loggerheads over sovereignty over these islands.
The Hainan Meteorological Bureau used to issue forecasts for the waters surrounding the three islands, but it now releases forecasts for weather on the islands themselves.
The Wenweipo, a major Hong Kong newspaper, on May 28 presented an expert's view that issuing weather forecasts is one of the conventional methods for laying sovereignty claims, along with monitoring fishing activities and drilling for oil and gas.
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