(From USA Today)
As a tourist destination, the Spratly Islands are pretty bleak. Never mind posh resorts or seaside bars. The place hardly has any toilets.
But that won’t stop Vietnam’s government from launching a deluxe cruise liner into this abyss. For $800, passengers will soon venture to the remote rocks, which are little more than boring specks of land in an ocean wasteland.
This is essentially a cruise to nowhere. It can’t promise passage to Vietnam’s best beaches. Those are all located along Vietnam’s coastline.
What it offers is an opportunity to go on holiday and annoy China at the same time. The target audience: any Vietnamese people who A) love “wonderful reefs and sparkling colors” and B) despise Chinese government maneuvers to establish dominance over nearby seas.
The islands are located in the South China Sea, an expanse of turquoise waters that has become Asia’s most disputed turf.
China says it owns practically all of the sea. Five other nations, including Vietnam and the Philippines, claim parts of it as well. There is much at stake: vast fossil fuel reserves, crucial shipping lanes and national pride. Read more