Watchdog issues plan to protect the islands

Updated: 2012-04-20 08:02

By Wang Qian (China Daily)

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China forbids anyone to develop the country's islands designated for special purposes in its territorial waters, according to the national plan on island protection released on Thursday by the country's ocean watchdog.

The islands include those used for military purposes and with important nature reserve meaning.

China has 1,020 special-purposed islands, including 77 islands that serve as territorial reference points, according to figures from the State Oceanic Administration.

"The plan provides elaborate measures to further protect the country's maritime interests," Lu Caixia, director of the administration's island management department, said on Thursday.

The plan covers the country's island protection plan from 2011 to 2020.

It said that the local governments should put up obvious signs and designate protected areas. All activities that may change the nature of the area are strictly banned, without the permission of the State Council.

Without the authorities' approval, no one can take pictures or videos, or map or survey in the designated islands, according to the plan.

It added that if tourism is planned on those islands, the tourism development should avoid the protected area.

Lu said a supervisory system will also be established on important islands, especially in the territorial reference point islands, to keep close watch on the islands' real-time conditions.

Wang Xiaobo, a researcher in the Second Institute of Oceanography under the State Oceanic Administration, who attended the drafting of the plan, said that besides the supervisory system, the biosystem and environment near the base point islands will be under full protection, and for those damaged, timely recovery will be carried out.

"Strengthening supervision of the islands designated for special purposes will give legal support in guaranteeing China's maritime claims," Wang told China Daily.

Sea disputes between China and other countries have surged in recent months.

Sino-Japanese relations have been tense since the governor of Tokyo announced a plan to buy part of the Diaoyu Islands, on Monday, in Washington.

Beijing reiterated China's sovereignty over the islands on Tuesday.

In the South China Sea, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei all have competing claims over some Chinese islands.

China is mapping out a plan for developing tourism on the Xisha Islands. The plan said key territorial reference point islands among the Xisha Islands are on the protected list.

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