Chinese Vessel on South China Sea Tour

Chinese naval ship ‘Changle Princess’ is on its maiden voyage to the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.

Ship sailed from Sanya on the southern Chinese island province of Hainan on Thursday afternoon with 308 passengers on a four-day voyage. It is the latest effort by China to bolster its claims in the strategic waterway.

China has previously said that it wants to build Maldives-style resorts around the South China Sea. China claims 90 percent of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan lay claim to parts of the sea, through which passes about $5 trillion of trade a year.

The first cruises from China to the Paracel islands were launched by Hainan Strait Shipping Co in 2013. The Paracels are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.