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South China Sea city strives to make islands green and waters blue


03-09-2017 08:44 BJT

Full coverage: 2017 NPC & CPPCC Sessions

(Source: CGTN)

By CGTN reporter Han Bin

Nearly five years after China’s southernmost city Sansha was established, it's playing a growing, significant role in strengthening the country's foothold in the South China Sea. Sansha administers the Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha Islands and their surrounding waters, covering an area of about two million square kilometers. CGTN reporter Han Bin has visited Sansha many times, and caught up with its mayor, Xiao Jie, who's in Beijing for the Two Sessions as an NPC Deputy.

This man is the biggest supporter of Sansha. Over the past five years, Mayor Xiao Jie has spent most of his time visiting islands in his jurisdiction.

And NPC Deputy Xiao Jie understands, the city is playing a strategic role in the exercise of China’s sovereignty in the South China Sea. The blueprint for maritime rights has been released during the political session.

Xiao Jie says he’s encouraged that the government has a clear strategy. The work report says the government wants to move faster to build a stronger maritime country, and to better safeguard its rights and interests.

"Sansha is a good example of such policy. We’ve taken various measures to make it even more beautiful. The concept of eco-construction is more of a common practice. We are trying to make Sansha’s islands green, and waters blue," Xiao said.

Xiao Jie says on some islands where natural conditions are fragile, no construction is allowed. Last year, two million trees were planted to prevent shoreline erosion. Another million will be added this year.

Elsewhere, infrastructure has been rapidly upgraded. Daily business flights to Yongxing Island, the city seat, are expected to increase. And services on the islands open to tourists are on the rise.

"Many islands have gained more functions to provide a better life. They now have neighborhood committees, water, electricity, infrastructure, and even entertainment. With gradual development, islands in the South China Sea can serve as staging posts, for neighboring countries in the Belt and Road Initiative," Xiao said.

Xiao Jie says the civil-military integration system for law enforcement is progressing.

Much is riding on Sansha’s growth, for a better life for the fishermen, and an effective means to protect China’s sovereignty.

Many believe that given the complexity of the situation in the South China Sea, it’s hard for Sansha to fulfill its responsibilities. The city needs greater support from the central government. Xiao Jie says the future for Sansha is bright, but he's very clear that the challenges are formidable.

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