Fisherman, 81, says others came to islands late

Updated: 2016-05-24 08:22


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Fisherman, 81, says others came to islands late

Su Chengfen, 81-year-old captain. CHINA DAILY

When Su Chengfen started his fishing life at the age of 13, there were no traces of foreigners in the Nansha Islands.

"I never heard my grandfather or father talking about seeing foreign fishermen when they came home from the Xisha and Nansha islands," said the 81-year-old captain, who lives in Qionghai, Hainan province.

"When I first went to the Nansha Islands in 1948, I also did not see any foreigners from countries claiming the islands today, such as the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia," Su told China Daily.

Fishermen from the mainland stopped going to the remote islands in the mid-1950s, due to security and political concerns, as troops from Taiwan were active in the region.

In 1956, the Philippines said it had "discovered" some islands at Nansha and started claiming them. Vietnam also started taking some islands in 1962.

A larger wave of island claiming by the two countries occurred in the 1970s and 1980s, against the background of the discovery of oil and gas resources beneath the sea floor around the Nansha Islands, as well as the negotiations and signing of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Su saw many Philippine and Vietnamese fishermen during his first trip back there in 1985.