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Sansha, a new prefecture-level city in the South China Sea, launched its first infrastructure projects on Saturday.
Sewage disposal and waste collection facilities will be built to ensure the sustainable development of the city, which is made up of coral islands and reefs.
Workers relax briefly at the commencement ceremony of the sewage treatment plant in Yongxing Island on Saturday. [Photo/Xinhua]
The city was established late last month to administer more than 200 islets, sandbanks and reefs in Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha islands and the 2 million square kilometers of surrounding waters, where the number of sea disputes with other countries has recently surged. It is under the jurisdiction of Hainan, China's southernmost province.
At around 10 am on Saturday, Xiao Jie, the first mayor of Sansha, ordered bulldozers to start construction of the public utility facilities on Yongxing Island, the government seat of Sansha, Xinhua News Agency reported.
Yongxing Island, a part of the Xisha Islands and the largest island in the area, has about 1,000 residents and a military garrison that was established last month.
As planned, a sewage treatment plant and pipe network will be set up and put into use within a year. The plant will be capable of treating 800 metric tons of wastewater a year, which could be used to flush roads and toilets, irrigate the greenbelt and wash vehicles, the city government said in a press release.
In addition, a waste transfer station will be built to sort and compress garbage collected from the island and its neighboring islets. The waste will then be shipped to Hainan Island for further disposal.
The city government said the projects aim to strengthen environmental protection and improve living conditions for residents and servicemen stationed on the islands.
It will also help protect the diversity of marine species and promote the fishery industry, it said.
More infrastructure, such as plants for seawater desalination and rainwater purification, will be built on Yongxing Island, local officials said.
The Hainan Provincial Tourism Development Commission said earlier that tourist cruises from Haikou, the provincial capital, to Sansha might be launched by the end of this year to bring more visitors to the islands.
In addition to tourism, the city also plans to develop fishing, oil and gas industries as its economic engines.
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