Several NPC and CPPCC representatives have called for the establishment of a "Borders Day" to deepen citizens' understanding of China's border areas and promote the development of those regions.
China's has 22,000 kilometers of land borders and 18,000 kilometers of sea borders, and neighbors 15 countries.
The border regions account for 60 percent of China's total territory of 9.6 million square kilometers and are rich in resources and unique scenery, which is very important for China's prosperity, Bao Mingde, a CPPCC member and also a professor with the Institute of Ethnic Literature at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times yesterday.
"However, many people feel the borderlands are far away from them as they are unfamiliar with them," Bao said.
Many Chinese people lack knowledge of China's territory and are unclear about important towns in border regions, their history and current situations and China's disputes with other countries, Luo Yuan, another CPPCC member and also a deputy secretary of the General China Society of Military Sciences, told the Global Times yesterday.
"Moreover, these border regions face many challenges. Due to a lack of economic development compared to the inland cities, an increasing number of residents have moved from the frontiers to the cities, shrinking the adult labor and talent pool," Luo said.
There is a large ethnic population in border regions, accounting for 15 percent of the total population in these areas, much higher than the average level in the rest of the country, he said.
"The unbalanced economy in frontier regions will bring unharmonious elements to these areas. During the process of communicating with other ethnic groups, we should also protect the culture of minority groups," he said.
Ge Jianxiong, a CPPCC member and a historical geography professor at Fudan University, agreed with the two members, and suggested holding activities on Borders Day to bring people's attention to these regions.
"Border regions are windows for friendly communication to overseas regions, multiple cultures and also good places for travel. People who work and live there have contributed to protecting the nation's interests, therefore we should support them," Ge told the Global Times yesterday.
The three members all agreed to name a day that symbolized peace.
"We should choose a harmonious day to recall good memories for people," Bao said.
Luo suggested January 4, the day in 1961 when China and Myanmar's Border Treaty took effect.
"It's the first peaceful and equal treaty that the People's Republic of China signed with another country," Luo said.
Ge said May 23 could be considered, as on that day in 1951, China's Central Government and Tibet signed a treaty on the peaceful liberation of Tibet.
The proposal was hailed by deputies from border regions.
"The day could enrich our lives together with other traditional and modern festivals," Parhat Abdureym, an Uyghur professor at the Xinjiang Medical University in Urumqi, told the Global Times.
In December, the Global Times and China's online news portal Sina jointly compiled a list of the 10 most important towns in China's border regions, including Yadong in Tibet Autonomous Region, Xishuangbanna Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province and Dandong in Liaoning.
The list was part of "Let's Get Close to the Border Regions," a public welfare activity launched by the two outlets last June.
About 20 reporters from the Global Times went on a series of reporting tours in border cities for about 10 days last year.
Global Times Observer
Border areas need to be brought back from the cold
China's development has been closely related to the stability and prosperity of its border areas. The development of border areas is a vital part of China's overall development.