City rush, island time
Updated: 2013-10-04 01:40
By Wang Qian and Huanag Yiming in Sansha, Hainan (China Daily)
Fishing boats dock in Yongxing Island, Sansha city, South China's Hainan province in 2012.Photos by Huang Yiming / China Daily
Fisherman Lin Jian has lived on Yongxing Island for more than a decade, but today he hardly recognizes the place.
"Every day the island has a new look," the 45-year-old said.
This once-remote island, in southern Hainan province, became home to Chinas newest and smallest city — in land size and population — when Sansha was established in July last year.
Since then, it has undergone a transformation that even by Chinese standards has been astonishing; from having almost no modern conveniences, to having tap water, 24-hour electricity, paved roads, a hospital and a sewage plant — even 3G coverage.
Lin and his family will soon move into a new home in a purpose-built fishing community, while a kindergarten and primary school are set to open next year.
"Life here is no different than in an urban area, with the Internet and TV, but we have beautiful views and fresh air," said Lin Jun, the fisherman's 19-year-old son, who returned to the island last year to help the family business.
"It's not a remote island to me anymore," he added. "It's a good place to relax."
Sansha comprises several island groups in the South China Sea — Xisha, which includes Yongxing, the seat of the Sansha city government, and Zhongsha and Nansha — and covers a land area of 13 square kilometers and 2.6 million sq km of maritime territory.
According to the city government, the islands were home to 833 people by the end of 2012. Officials expect that to increase, if higher authorities agree to changes to household registration rules to attract more long-term residents.
When it comes to infrastructure, Mayor of Sansha Xiao Jie, said priority has been given to projects that concern people's livelihoods.
The first 28 projects completed in July this year, after an investment of 24 billion yuan ($3.9 billion), paid for an extended nine-berth port at Yongxing and a garbage collection and transfer system.
A new, three-story hospital, which cost 18 million yuan, means the city can meet basic health demands, while a 20 million yuan sewage treatment plant supplies Yongxing with 1,800 cubic meters of safe, non-drinking water.
Hainan province and the central government have pooled almost 80 million yuan for a badly needed seawater desalination plant, which will process 1,000 cu m a day to produce clean drinking water.
Authorities say a vessel with a capacity of 400 metric tons is also under construction in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, and will transport food from Yongxing to other islets and collect waste, as well as possibly provide ferry services.