'Sovereignty declaration' taking shape

Updated: 2016-07-12 08:00

By Liu Xiaoli in Haikou and An Baijie in Beijing(China Daily)

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 'Sovereignty declaration' taking shape

The National South China Sea Museum, shown in an artist's rendering, will be completed next year. Provided To China Daily

Museum to open next year will document China's long history with the sea and islands

China is building a museum in its southernmost Hainan province to display the culture of the South China Sea amid rising maritime tension caused by an imminent ruling in an arbitration case.

The National South China Sea Museum, on which construction began in November last year and which will open next year, will be "a platform of declaration of sovereignty over South China Sea", Chen Jiang, the museum project's director, said on Monday.

The museum will exhibit evidence of China's sovereignty over the South China Sea, including genglubu, traditional guidebooks to the sea and islands for fishermen, seafaring technology, and historical relics found in the South China Sea islands, he said.

The previous Philippine administration of president Benigno Aquino unilaterally launched the arbitration case against China over maritime disputes in early 2013. The Arbitral Tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is scheduled to issue its ruling on Tuesday. China maintains that the tribunal appointed by the court has no jurisdiction over the issue because it concerns sovereignty and security issues.

The museum, will cover 1.5 hectares at Tanmen fishing harbor in Qionghai, on the east coast of the island province, and has a projected building cost of 932 million yuan ($139 million).

Tanmen, a well-known small fishing town whose residents are thought to have been the first to explore and exploit the South China Sea, with the help of genglubu and the compass, was regarded as the perfect site for the museum.

"Genglubu, mostly found in Tanmen, are important evidence showing China's sovereignty in the South China Sea, so Tanmen becomes very important, and that is one of special reasons we choose the harbor as the museum site." Chen said.

Sun Xuedong, deputy head of the Hainan Provincial Administration of Cultural Heritage, said the museum will make use of advanced digital and virtual technology including the big-data service.

"Visitors to the museum will hear the guide in our app and they can hear some related information if they are interested in learning more," said Sun.

The museum will have six exhibit sections, on historic cultures that lived by the south China Sea and the plant and animal life of the area, two thematic exhibitions of cultural relics of the Maritime Silk Road collected from seven provinces, and underwater cultural relics from the South China Sea, as well as cultural relics from overseas.

It will soon collect relics, and anyone with such artifacts related to the South China Sea is encouraged to donate them to the museum.

Liu Cigui, governor of Hainan province, said at a meeting on Saturday that relics collected must fit in with the South China Sea theme.

Huang Yiming in Haikou contributed to this story.

Contact the writer at anbaijie@chinadaily.com.cn