Asia

What does disputed Paracel island look like?

Yongxing/Woody Island Image copyright VCG

The largest island in the disputed Paracel archipelago in the South China Sea is now believed to host surface-to-air missiles.

Known as Woody island by most, it is occupied by China, which calls it Yongxing. It is also claimed by Vietnam, which calls it Phu Lam, as well as by Taiwan.

Reports of the presence of missiles on the island have added to concerns about the militarisation of the South China Sea. Here is what we know about Woody Island.

China has controlled it for a long time

Image copyright VCG
Image caption Located about 300 km (190 miles) southeast of Hainan in China, the country has had some presence on the island since 1956
Image copyright VCG
Image caption In 2012, it established the city of Sansha on the island to administer the whole South China Sea, as well as a military garrison

There are people living on it

Image copyright VCG
Image caption More than 1,000 people live on the island, mainly soldiers, construction workers and fishermen
Image copyright VCG
Image caption There is a school, a hospital, a library...
Image copyright VCG
Image caption ....as well as an airport, port and mobile phone coverage

It's not the only source of tensions between neighbours

Image copyright VCG
Image caption The South China Sea is claimed almost entirely by China - but with many competing claims by Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei
Image copyright IHS Jane's
Image caption In recent years, China's extensive land reclamation in the area has sparked fears of militarisation and potential conflict
Image copyright Google
Image caption In 2015, Beijing temporarily deployed fighter aircraft to Woody Island

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