New film depicts couple’s 30-year patriotic guardianship of Chinese islet
Published: Jun 03, 2021 06:00 PM
Wang Jicai raises the national flag on the island. Photo: VCG

Wang Jicai raises the national flag on the island. Photo: VCG

For more than 30 years, a husband and a wife team guarded a tiny inland in China's Yellow Sea. Every day, they raised the Chinese national flag high in the sky to demonstrate China's sovereignty, whether in rainy or windy days.

Now their story will be told on the screen. Chinese movie Island Keeper starring actor Liu Ye and actress Gong Zhe is set to hit theaters in China on June 18 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

The husband Wang Jicai was the head of the militia post on Kaishan Island in East China's Jiangsu Province and, together with his wife Wang Shihua, stood guard on the island only in the size of two football fields, for over three decades. They were the islet's only residents.

The film depicts the most important moment from the couple's time on the islet, showing the dramatic conflicting choices they had to make, including the decision on whether they should stay on the island.

The stories in the film are based on Wangs' real experiences such as their hesitation when first starting out living on the island, bravely rescuing young drowning swimmers, cracking down on smugglers and spending Spring Festival with their family together on the island.

These stories reveal the deep connection between husband and wife, parents and son, and comrade-in-arms to audiences and also show the rich inner world of Wang and his wife and their patriotic feelings toward their motherland.

In the trailer for the movie, the two can be seen struggling against the harsh natural environment out at sea and how they insisted on raising the Chinese national flag even when being soaked to the bone by rainstorms. 

Wang said that only when the national flag is hoisted high can it show that Kaishan Island is part of China's territory and that when fishermen return from the sea, they know they are home when they see the national flag.

Wang first stepped onto the island in 1986. Accompanied by his wife, he persisted for 32 years until he died of a sudden illness in 2018 at 58 years old.

After his death, Wang's wife applied to take over his duties and she has remained there till today.

Several military media outlets, including PLA Daily and, have posted the trailer online, appealing to netizens to support the film and getting a warm response in return. 

A young member of the CPC surnamed Xiao, 27, told the Global Times on Thursday that she had learned about Wang's story from reports in 2018 when he unfortunately passed away, and was deeply touched by his spirit. 

"Amid the Party's birthday, I want to relive these moving stories in the cinema. And the cast of the movie has also caught my interest."

August First Film Studio, originally the PLA Film Studio, is one of the production companies behind the film. The studio has produced films such as Youth directed by Feng Xiaogang.