Beijing: Amid a row over South China Sea with its maritime neighbours, China today said it is leading a plan to set up a tsunami and other natural disaster warning systems in the area. "Tsunamis don't occur frequently, but they always result in significant damage. In the South China Sea, occurrence of earthquakes and tsunamis in the Manila Trench near the Philippines is highly possible," Zhang Zhanhai, head of the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said.
Zhang told media here that China is now capable of sending tsunami warnings to other countries around the South China Sea. These countries have reached a consensus on China leading the construction of the warning system, state-run Xinhua quoted him as saying.
The new initiatives comes in the backdrop of tensions between China and other South China Sea neighbours like Philippines and Vietnam over the maritime boundaries.China claims sovereignty over virtually the entire South China Sea which is hotly contested by Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei besides Taiwan.
Earlier SOA has released an international cooperation framework for the South China Sea and other neighbouring sea areas which included plans for China to cooperate with neighbouring countries to explore and utilise maritime resources, reduce oceanic disasters and develop the maritime economy.
SOA spokesman, Shi Qingfeng mentioned multiple cooperative programmes, including a monsoon monitoring project launched in cooperation with Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, as well as research on the connection between oceanic disasters and climate change.
In another development state-run CCTV reported that China has sent an ocean going patrol vessel equipped with a helipad to the South China Sea, the first of its kind to be put into service there.
The vessel, Haixun 21, will be under the administration of the Hainan Maritime Safety Administration. "It will monitor maritime traffic safety, investigate maritime accidents, detect pollution, carry out search and rescue work and fulfill international conventions," Huang He, deputy head of the maritime bureau of the Ministry of Transport said.