China has named a remote island in the South China Sea in a move to cement sovereignty claims in the world’s most disputed waters, Asahi Shimbun reports.

The Cabinet approved the new municipality of Sansha, meaning “three sandbanks”, last month in an attempt to “consolidate administration” over the Paracel and Spratly island chains and the Macclesfield Bank. Mayor Xiao Jie declared the 13 km sq city, which has a single airstrip, a white-columned government building, post office, bank, supermarket and hospital, and a population of just 1,000. The city is strategically located, with a jurisdiction over 2 million km sq of surrounding waters, to gain a foothold on claims over disputed waters, according to Xinhua.

The Philippines, which also claims the Spratlys, protested against China’s move. Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez told a news conference: “The Philippines does not recognize the Sansha city and the extent of its jurisdiction and considers recent measures taken by China as unacceptable.” Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Luong Thanh Ngh, said in a statement that, “China’s establishment of the so-called ‘Sansha City’ … violated international law, seriously violating Vietnam sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos”. Vietnam claims the Paracels. This comes after talks between ASEAN and China on a Code of Conduct in territorial dispute failed to make progress.