China says it recently approved the establishment of two districts to administer islands and reefs in the disputed South China Sea in an apparent bid to strengthen its claim to sovereignty over the area.
The Chinese government announced on Saturday the creation of the new districts in Sansha city in Hainan province. China earlier said the city administered the area.
One of the new districts is said to administer the islands and reefs of the Paracel Islands, and the other, those of the Spratly Islands.
China says each district has a local government. The government for the Spratly Islands is located on Fiery Cross Reef, which China has fortified by land reclamation.
China continues to increase its military presence in the South China Sea, such as by constructing artificial islands, despite territorial disputes with surrounding countries.
The new move by China amid the global coronavirus crisis may draw international criticism.