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HAIKOU - China on Tuesday set up an organizing committee for the legislative body of Sansha, officially beginning the formation of the government of the newly established city in the South China Sea.
The committee was set up by the Standing Committee of the Hainan Provincial People's Congress on Tuesday morning in Haikou, capital of China's southernmost island province, according to the Standing Committee.
It will organize the first municipal congress of Sansha, approving the electoral commission for the election of delegates and convening the first plenary meeting of the municipal congress.
The congress will have 60 delegates directly elected, and its Standing Committee will have 15 members, said an official from the Standing Committee.
The State Council, or China's cabinet, in June approved the establishment of Sansha, a prefectural-level city to administer the Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha islands and the surrounding waters in the South China Sea.
The government seat of Sansha will be stationed on Yongxing Island, part of the Xisha Islands.
The founding of Sansha city will improve China's management of the region and help coordinate efforts to develop the islands and protect the marine environment, said Zhao Zhongshe, director of the Hainan provincial Department of Ocean and Fisheries.
Wu Shicun, director of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, also said the fishermen's safety and the oil-gas, fishery and tourism resources in the South China Sea would be better protected.
Tourist cruises from Haikou to Sansha might be formally launched by the end of this year, according to the Hainan provincial Tourism Development Board.
Sansha city administers over 200 islets, sandbanks and reefs in Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha islands, covering 13 square kilometers in island area and 2 million square kilometers of water.
China said it first discovered and named the reefs, islets and surrounding waters of Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha islands. In 1959, it became the first country to set up an administrative office to exercise sovereignty over the area.
The new city government compared to the administrative office will be able to better administrate the islands, according to an announcement by the Ministry of Civil Affairs in June.