Despite Vietnamese protests, Chinese citizens Saturday began voting for the legislature in Sansha, a prefectural level city that will administer Vietnam's Truong Sa (Spratly) and Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelagos.
China National Radio reported that more than 1,100 people cast their ballots at 15 voting booths in Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagoes and Trung Sa (Macclesfield Bank) for delegates to the 1st people's congress of so-called Sansha City.
The congress will have 60 members who will serve five-year terms.
The State Council, China's cabinet, approved in June the establishment of a city to administer the Truong Sa, Hoang Sa, and Trung Sa and their surrounding waters.
This was opposed by authorities in Vietnam's Khanh Hoa Province and Da Nang city since Truong Sa and Hoang Sa belong to them.
Vietnam News Agency quoted Da Nang and Khanh Hoa leaders as saying that China has "seriously violated Vietnam's sovereignty" and that the city has "no legal legitimacy."
Nguyen Chien Thang, Chairman of the Khanh Hoa People's Committee, said: "We oppose this and request that China cancel this wrongful and unreasonable decision, and take no further steps that could affect bilateral relations and the friendship between the two countries."
Van Huu Chien, chairman of the Da Nang People's Committee, said Hoang Sa is an integral part of Vietnamese territory and belongs to Da Nang.