China will set up an "international maritime judicial center" in a bid to help protect its sea rights, the country's chief justice said Sunday, a move that analysts say Beijing could use to bolster its claims in the disputed South and East China seas.

Courts across the country are working to implement a national strategy of turning the country into a "maritime power," Chief Justice Zhou Qiang said in a report during an annual meeting of the nation's rubber-stamp legislature, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

"(We) must resolutely safeguard China's national sovereignty, maritime rights and other core interests. (We) must improve the work of maritime courts and build an international maritime judicial center," Xinhua quoted Zhou as saying, without giving further details.