China / Society

Chinese expert discusses religious sites on South China Sea islands

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-10-28 21:09

BEIJING - A Chinese expert has found Chinese religious sites on islands in the South China Sea, providing more evidence of China's sovereignty over the area.

With historical documents, archaeological findings and 50 photos from four years of field study, Chen Jinguo of the Institute of World Religions of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) believes that Chinese people built a lot of religious sites on the islands, their most important cultural features and the centers of fishermen's everyday life, according to his thesis published in "Religious Cultures of the World."

Chen said claims of sovereignty over the islands are based on historical occupation and so some countries have destroyed religious sites and added "historical" features of their own.

Japanese Yoji Nishizawa occupied the Dongsha Islands in 1906 on the pretext of "discovering" them, changing their name to the Nishizawa Islands and destroying Chinese temples there.

Historical documents, archaeological findings, field studies and oral information have all recorded Chinese religious sites, an important basis for China's claim of sovereignty.

Chen said Chinese religious sites in the South China Sea signify Chinese people's efforts to develop the waters.

He suggested that China pay more attention to rebuilding and protecting religious sites on some islands and developing traditional folk activities to safeguard territorial and cultural sovereignty.

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