Island infrastructure drive set to make waves

Updated: 2015-08-06 07:39

By Xu Wei and Huang Yiming(China Daily)

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Island infrastructure drive set to make waves
A government building under construction on Zhaoshu Island. Xu Wei / China Daily

China's newest city has just celebrated its third birthday amid a massive construction program designed to raise living standards and attract more maritime businesses. Xu Wei and Huang Yiming report from Sansha, Hainan province.

Yongxing Island has never offered as many business opportunities as it does today, according to Chen Hongwei.

Chen, a construction project manager for Hainan First Construction Engineering Co, said the company's business has received a massive boost in the last three years as a result of an intense infrastructure drive in Sansha, founded in 2012.

Hainan First currently has a 50-person team employed on the construction of the island's first primary school, but the limited transportation capabilities mean Chen's biggest headache is simply getting new workers to the island, which is not open to the general public.

"The people who come to the island are mainly fishermen and their relatives, and government employees. It's never easy to get a ticket for the boat," said the Hunan province native, who has lived on the island for more than 20 years.

Sansha, which administers the island groups around Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha and the surrounding waters in the South China Sea, celebrated its third birthday in late July. The local authorities are still trying to boost the young city's transportation and infrastructure, and further improve its function as a center of government. A number of projects have also been launched to improve living conditions on Yongxing Island and the neighboring islets.

Chen estimated that the island - part of Hainan, China's southernmost province - is currently home to more than 1,000 construction workers, equal to almost one-fifth of the resident population. The primary school in Sansha is scheduled to open in September, and the city is relocating all the residents of the island's fishing villages to 19 residential complexes, some of which are still being built.

Xiao Jie, Sansha's mayor, said the immature infrastructure, especially transportation, is one of the biggest factors hampering development. "There was no precedent to follow in either infrastructure construction or city governance. Everything we've done has been achieved through trial and error," he said.

Every sandbag and brick used in the construction work has to be shipped from the mainland, and the buildings must be able to resist the frequent typhoons, Xiao told the two sessions, the meeting of China's top governing bodies, in March.

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