Hainan encourages individuals to develop uninhabited islands in South China Sea

By Liu Caiyu Source:Global Times Published: 2018/7/5 13:33:40

Move to help uphold China’s territorial integrity

South China's Hainan Province, which administers waters in the South China Sea, allows individuals to use uninhabited islands for tourism and construction purposes for up to 50 years, an official document said on Wednesday.

Analysts said the move will help uphold China's territorial integrity and maintain stability in the South China Sea.

Any entity or individual who wants to develop uninhabited islands needs to apply and provide development plans to provincial ocean administration authorities, according to the Department of Ocean and Fisheries of Hainan Province.

The time frame for the use of uninhabited island is 15 years for aquaculture, 25 years for tourism and amusement purposes, 30 years for the salt and mineral industry, 40 years for public welfare projects and 50 years for harbor and shipyard building. Developers should pay to the government for using those islands.

"The development on uninhabited islands will maintain stability of South China Sea and dispel other countries' attempts to invade and occupy our territorial sovereignty," Chen Xiangmiao, a research fellow at the Hainan-based National Institute for the South China Sea said.

The development will mainly focus on uninhabited islands in Xisha region, which is home to hundreds of undeveloped islands. Countries including Vietnam always attempt to create controversy in China's Xisha Islands, Chen said.

China won't develop controversial islands in the South China Sea as part of an agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said Zhu Feng, executive director of China Center for Collaborative Studies of the South China Sea at Nanjing University.

The development of Hainan's uninhabited islands would also benefit its purpose of building a free trade zone for economic development and increase its utilization of land resources, experts noted.

Sansha, China's southernmost island city, will benefit the most from it, since many islands in the region have yet to be developed, Chen noted.

Sansha was officially established in 2012 to administer the Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha island groups and their surrounding waters in the South China Sea.

Island development should take into consideration island resources, environmental and ecological protection.

Provincial ocean administration authorities will do field research and examine whether the use of the islands fulfills legal requirements or influence the security of seaways and islands for national defense.

China first broached the idea of uninhabited island development in 2001.

A total of 176 uninhabited islands are listed for development, which are along China's eastern and southern coasts in eight provinces.

Newspaper headline: Hainan invites isles devt

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