China may step up patrols of disputed waters in the South China Sea to protect its interests in a range of areas following a recent confrontation with a US naval ship, AFP said, citing state media. Last week, Beijing sent its most advanced fisheries patrol vessel to the area. "China will make the best use of its naval ships… and may also build more fishery patrol ships, depending on the need," said Wu Zhuang, director of the fisheries administration in the South China Sea. The disputed area includes the disputed Spratlys and Paracel Islands. The islands are believed to be atop vast mineral and oil deposits and are adjacent to busy international shipping lanes. In addition to China, the islands are also claimed in whole or in part by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.