Woody Island (South China Sea)
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2013)|
|Yongxing Island 永兴岛 (PRC & ROC);
Phú Lâm Island (Vietnam)
|Country||Occupied by PRC since 1974
Claimed by PRC, ROC, Vietnam
|• Body||Yongxingdao Neighborhood Committee|
|• Total||2.1 km2 (0.8 sq mi)|
|• Length||1.850 km (1.150 mi)|
|• Width||1.160 km (0.721 mi)|
|• Total||circa 500–1,000|
|Time zone||China (UTC+8)|
|Dialing code||+86 0898|
Woody Island, also known as Yongxing Island (simplified Chinese: 永兴岛; traditional Chinese: 永興島; pinyin: Yǒngxīng Dǎo; literally "Eternal Prosperity Island") and Phu Lam Island (Vietnamese: Đảo Phú Lâm), is the largest of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.
Since 1974 it has been occupied by the People's Republic of China. It is administered by the Yongxingdao Neighborhood Committee as part of Sansha City of Hainan Province, and serves as the seat of the prefecture-level city of Sansha. The island is also claimed by the Republic of China (Taiwan), and Vietnam
The island has no indigenous inhabitants, but is currently inhabited by fishermen, (Chinese) civil servants, and People's Liberation Army soldiers who are stationed on the island.
Fishing activities in the South China Sea region surrounding the island had been documented in records since earlier Chinese dynasties. During the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), Zheng He plotted the location of surrounding islands on a map. During the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912), the Xuantong Emperor sent the Guangdong Navy to survey the Paracel Islands, and on the island they erected a stele and raised a flag. In 1932, the island was occupied by French Indochina.
The island was occupied by Japan during World War II. Following Japan's surrender at the end of the war, the Nationalist Chinese government sent four warships to the South China Sea in 1946 to reclaim the Spratly and Paracel Islands. Woody Island was renamed "Yongxing Island" after one of these Republic of China Navy warships, ROCS Yung-hsing (永興號).
After the Hainan Island Campaign in 1950 during the Chinese Civil War, the ROC garrison on Woody Island surrendered to the People's Liberation Army. Armed fishermen from the Chinese mainland in support of the communists gradually controlled Woody Island and a few other reefs within the eastern portion of the Paracels. Due to the struggle between the Nationalists and Communists, Chinese military presence in the Paracels was absent until the 1960s, where a military garrison occupied the eastern part of the archipelago. The Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) continued to exercise its sovereignty in the west part of the Paracels Islands after assuming control from the departing French colonialists, by maintaining a military garrison on the western part of the archipelago starting in the mid-1950s per a decision by Ngo Dinh Diem's administration . Within the 20 years thereafter, conflicts between the two sides have repeatedly erupted within the region. In January 1974, the PLA Navy captured the Paracel Islands during the Battle of the Paracel Islands.
The island is located south of the tropic of cancer and falls in the tropical marine monsoon climate category. It experiences abundant rainfall, year-round high temperatures, high humidity and high salt. Coupled with generally clear skies and sunny weather, ultraviolet light is particularly strong. Time of direct sunlight is long, with the annual average temperature being around 26.5 degrees Celsius. The coldest average temperature in January is 23 degrees Celsius and the hottest average temperature in June is 29 degrees Celsius; the maximum temperature range is 21 to 31 degrees Celsius. The rainy season lasts for 5 to 6 months every year.
Structures and facilities
The island has an artificial harbor capable of docking vessels of 5,000 tonnes. In 2008 the island's main sea transportation was the freighter Qiongsha-3, (2,500 tonnes, length: 84 m, width: 13.8 m, load capacity: 200 passengers and 750 tonnes of cargo). Qiongsha-3 was the only means of sea transportation to and from the island for non-military personnel such as fishermen and researchers. Each trip lasted from 13 to 15 hours.
The Yongxing Island Airport was completed in July 1990, with a 2,700-metre runway that is capable of handling any third-generation fighter aircraft of the PLA Air Force such as the Sukhoi Su-30MKK. Since 2005, the main air transportation to and from the island involves chartered flights on Xian Y-7 60-seat propeller aircraft which link to Haikou Meilan International Airport on Hainan proper. Other constructions include three main roads and an 800-metre long cement bank connecting the island and Rocky Island (石岛/đảo Đá).
Apart from government buildings and army posts, the island has various establishments. The island's administrative centre is located on Beijing Road, which has an Industrial and Commercial Bank of China branch, a hospital, various shops, hostels, food stations, a post office, small department stores and an aquatic company. A rescue centre on the island was established on 15 July 2006.
There are two museums on the island that are tourist attractions - Xisha Maritime Museum and a Naval Museum. Other tourist attractions include towers left by the Imperial Japanese Army during WWII, a monument erected by the ROC government in 1946, and a monument erected by the PRC in 1974. Tourists to the island are required to obtain approval from the Chinese authorities in Haikou before departure. Hiring a fishing boat from Hainan to the island is possible.
On 10 April 2011, China National Radio (CNR) and Hainan People's Broadcasting Station began broadcasting FM Radio on the island. This is in addition to mobile communications and satellite television which are available in the fishing villages of the Paracel Islands.
Ecology and resources
The island's flora is generally tropical, with an abundance of palm trees. There is also a vegetable plantation sized around one-fifteenth of a hectare (~700 sq m). The western portion of the island has a coconut grove.
The island's domestic water supply is from rainwater collection. Additional drinking water is shipped from Hainan Island. Supply ships arrive monthly; during this time residents spend two days at the pier unloading materiel.
The island's civilian population generally consists of a small number of long-term fishermen settlements maintained by a fisherman's village committee, and a larger number of short-term fishermen that generally pass-by the island, in addition to small numbers of government workers and tourists.
Police officers and soldiers stationed on the island change shifts every two years, and civilian employees change shifts every six months.
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- Song Huong. "China brazenly imposes search of vessels in the East Sea". Authority of Foreign Information Service (Vietnam). Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- 吕一燃 (Lu Yiran), 2007. 中国近代边界史 (A modern history of China's borders), Vol. 2. 四川人民出版社 (Sichuan People's Publishing), pp.1092-1093. ISBN 7220073313
- Bernstein, Richard; Munro, Ross H. (1998). The Coming Conflict with China. Vintage Books. p. 74. ISBN 978-0679776628.
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- Chang, Andrei (26 September 2008). "Analysis: China's air-sea buildup". Spacewar.com. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
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- "CNR program covers Yongxing Island". China Army. 12 April 2011.
- 11 April 2011, 西沙永兴岛调频广播发射台昨天开始试播, China National Radio
- Aerial photos of Woody Island and its airport
- Satellite image of Woody Island by Google Maps
- "Sleepy island at centre of sea dispute". The Australian (News.com). 5 August 2012. (Includes a photo of the settlement and an accompanying photo gallery.)