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Islands Reeling from Blind Exploitation Damage
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A source from the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) has shed light on the worrying state of eco-systems in China' s islands, with some seen to be beyond repair after blind exploitation.

In recent years, dwindling land resources and the prospect of an economic boom made pioneers seek out opportunities in islands, often unpopulated, leading to irreversible ecological damage.

China is abundant in islands, with over 6,500 measuring more than 500 square meters. These important locations yield many rich resources to China but their remote locations and scarcity of drinking water make them inhospitable for permanent inhabitation.

Currently, ill-conceived projects such as en masse rubbish-dumping or blasting mountain sides to create quarries have devastated island ecosystems. Wildlife, such as colonies of rare birds are on the edge of extinction, after a series of hapless land reclamation projects.
"Priority will be given to protection of the islands, and efforts will be made to curb the blind exploitation," said an SOA official.

Due to inadequate protection, some geologically and strategically important islands are threatened, imperiling the interests and sovereignty of the state. The national 77 base points demarking territorial waters mainly rest on the islands, either denoting gravity points, astronomical points, bench marks, or global position points. However, lackluster supervision and protection have led to a very real risk.

The official promised that "the Chinese government will earmark fund to address the problem and ensure that island-residents have access to drinking water, convenient transportation, electricity power and telecommunication."

The SOA, in collaboration with other departments concerned, is expected to establish a team to supervise the work, pledging to return the islands to becoming true gems of the sea and representing a haven for prosperity and eco-friendliness. Hopes are high that the production, investment environment and living conditions on the islands will see great resurgence within a decade, through the introduction of measures such as the improvement of infrastructure and creation of waste & sewage treatment systems.

(China.org.cn by He Shan, June 29, 2007)

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