Eternal vigil at the nation's 'eastern gate'

By Li Hongyang | China Daily | Updated: 2019-08-21 07:25
A member of the PLA Navy on guard at the radar garrison on Dongfushan Island in the East China Sea, one of China's most easterly points. WANG ZHUANGFEI/CHINA DAILY

Sailors stationed at a remote radar post spend their lives watching for ship movements on the ocean. Li Hongyang reports from Zhoushan, Zhejiang.

For more than six decades, members of the People's Liberation Army Navy stationed at a radar garrison in the East China Sea have guarded the nation's territorial waters while battling inclement weather and isolation.

However, despite being members of the Navy, they don't sail on the ocean. Their job is to watch for danger on the sea from their base at the top of Dongfushan Island, one of China's most easterly outcrops.

The island, administered by Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, covers less than 3 square kilometers and has a civilian population of only about 100. An air of neglect hangs over the place.

For almost six months of every year, the garrison buildings-on the highest point of the rocky island, about 300 meters above sea level-are shrouded in thick fog.

Even in July, when the sun is bright and the air is dry at the foot of the mountain, visibility is less than 10 meters at the top, despite strong winds. Clothes are sticky all the time, and centipedes cover the ground at night, ready to bite unwary walkers.

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