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China established Sansha City in 2012 to administer the bulk of its territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea. Sansha is headquartered on Woody Island. The city’s jurisdiction includes the Paracel Islands, Zhongsha Islands, and Spratly Islands and most of the waters within China’s “ninedash line.” Sansha is responsible for exercising administrative control, implementing military-civil fusion, and carrying out the day-to-day work of rights defense, stability maintenance, environmental protection, and resource development. Since 2012, each level of the Chinese party-state system has worked to develop Sansha, improving the city’s physical infrastructure and transportation, communications, corporate ecosystem, party-state institutions, and rights defense system. In effect, the city’s development has produced a system of normalized administrative control. This system ultimately allows China to govern contested areas of the South China Sea as if they were Chinese territory.
China Maritime Studies Institute, U.S Naval War College
Newport, Rhode Island
China, China Maritime Studies Institute, CMSI, PLAN, Sansha, Island
Haver, Zoe, "China Maritime Report No. 12: Sansha City in China's South China Sea Strategy: Building a System of Administrative Control" (2021). CMSI China Maritime Reports. 12.