Pro­tec­tion of S.China Sea boosts Hainan de­vel­op­ment

Global Times US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Yang Sheng

Is­land con­struc­tion in the South China Sea in re­cent years has helped boost Hainan’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, giv­ing greater im­por­tance to the pro­tec­tion of mar­itime rights, ex­perts said.

Hainan is a prov­ince which gov­erns China’s is­lands in the South China Sea. And though Hainan’s ter­ri­tory is not big, it over­sees about two-thirds of China’s ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters. The prov­ince cel­e­brated the 30th an­niver­sary of its found­ing three days ago.

In re­cent years, due to the rapid is­land con­struc­tion in the South China Sea, Gross Ocean Prod­uct (GOP) is be­com­ing an im­por­tant source of GDP for Hainan, said Liu Feng, a Hainan-based ex­pert on the South China Sea.

GOP means the GDP of the ocean, such as ship­build­ing, sea trans­porta­tion, fish­ery in­dus­try, mar­itime tourism,

sea salt in­dus­try and off­shore oil and gas ex­plo­ration.

“In 2017, Hainan’s GOP reached 114 bil­lion yuan ($18 bil­lion), and ac­counted for 28.2 per­cent of the prov­ince’s to­tal GDP, and is pro­jected to reach 30 per­cent in the near fu­ture. Hainan will soon be­come an ocean-ori­ented eco­nomic en­tity,” Liu said.

When China de­cided to es­tab­lish Hainan Prov­ince in 1988, due to its lim­ited ca­pa­bil­i­ties and un­de­vel­oped econ­omy at that time, Hainan’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment was pri­mar­ily fo­cused on land rather than the ocean, Liu noted. “GOP’s share of the GDP was very low at the be­gin­ning, but is­land con­struc­tion in the South China Sea has boosted GOP growth.”

In 2012, China de­cided to set up San­sha city un­der Hainan Prov­ince. The city ad­min­is­ters Xisha, Zhong­sha, and Nan­sha Is­lands, and con­struc­tion work has sig­nif­i­cantly changed these is­lands.

The air­port in San­sha has at­tracted many tourists to the South China Sea, said Zhao Xinbo, a tour guide at the Hainan Air In­ter­na­tional Travel Agency.

San­sha’s peak tourist sea­son starts around Spring Festival and runs un­til May, when tem­per­a­tures in the re­gion are rel­a­tively higher than other parts of the coun­try, and div­ing, fish­ing and pho­tog­ra­phy are the most popular ac­tiv­i­ties, Zhao noted.

Added se­cu­rity

Since the GOP has be­come a ma­jor source of the prov­ince’s GDP, China should send more mili­tia mis­sions to safe­guard ter­ri­to­rial sovereignty and the marine rights and in­ter­ests in the South China Sea, a na­tional leg­is­la­tor said.

The num­ber of such mis­sions as­signed to the mili­tia in Tan­men, a port town­ship near Nan­sha Is­lands, has dropped in re­cent years, Wang Shu­mao, deputy head of the mili­tia in Tan­men, told the Global Times.

The mili­tia ex­pects to re­ceive more mis­sions, in­clud­ing pa­trols and to drive away tres­pass­ing ships in the South China Sea, said Wang, who is also a deputy to the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress (NPC).

The Chi­nese navy and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions firms are co­op­er­at­ing to up­grade com­mu­ni­ca­tions on some South China Sea is­lands and reefs, the of­fi­cial Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA) Daily re­ported in Fe­bru­ary.

The PLA Navy’s South China Sea Fleet has signed frame­work agree­ments to co­op­er­ate with the Hainan branches of China’s three largest tele­com op­er­a­tors to up­grade com­mu­ni­ca­tions on the Xisha and Nan­sha is­lands and reefs.

Once com­pleted in May, the project will bring 4G+ ser­vice to the area.

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