Newest City in China is a Tiny, Remote Island
The newest city in China is a small and remote island outpost located in a zone of highly disputed territory in the South China Sea. Only just large enough to accommodate a runway for aircrafts, the island known as Sansha already has a hospital, bank, post office and supermarket.
Conditions in the fledgling city have been described as salty, hot, harsh and humid with no fresh water available save what is collected from the rain or shipped in via freighter. While local fishermen live on the island year round, Chinese officials overseeing the island took turns staffing for one month intervals before Sansha became China’s latest municipality last Tuesday (July 24, 2012).
The name Sansha means “3 Sandbanks” in Mandarin, likely referring to the nearby disputed island chains and atoll known as Xisha, Nansha and Zhongsha.
Situated 350km (220 miles) south of China’s Hainan Island, the city of Sansha on the island of Yongxing was created to keep an eye on the hundreds of thousands of square km/miles of water that contain numerous potentially oil-rich islands and undersea opportunities including the Paracel and Spratly island chains as well as the Macclesfield Bank, a large and fully submerged atoll that boasts excellent fishing grounds that is also claimed by Taiwan and the Philippines.
Both China and Vietnam claim the Paracel Islands including Yongxing, and the two countries as well as the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also claim all or portions of the Spratlys.