China opened a maritime rescue center on one of its man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea on Tuesday, state-run media reported, as Beijing seeks to reinforce its claims in the strategic waterway.

China's Ministry of Transport opened the rescue center on Fiery Cross Reef, which is also claimed by Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines, "to better protect navigation and transport safety in the South China Sea," the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

It quoted the ministry as saying the center "will offer better support to maritime rescue operations in the southern part of the South China Sea" near the Spratly chain.