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Cruise ship tours to Xisha a stamp on country’s sovereignty

By Du Liya (Global Times)

10:24, November 12, 2012

A retrofitted cruise ship is expected to soon start carrying tourists to Hainan Province's Xisha Islands, said a delegate to the 18th National Congress of the CPC in a move that experts say will help the country declare its sovereignty over a trio of islands in the South China Sea.

Luo Baoming, a delegate to the 18th Party Congress from Hainan Province, who is also Party Secretary of Hainan Provincial Committee of CPC, said promoting tourism and the development of local tourism resources will spur economic growth of Sansha, the islands' largest city and the country's newest, the Hainan Daily reported on Saturday.

The refitted Princess Yexiang can carry 300 passengers who will be charged 10,000 yuan ($1,600) during peak season, Xinhua reported. The ship will sail from three cities on Hainan Island. It's not known when the ship will begin its voyages but earlier reports suggest they might start this year.

The construction of the first road on the Xisha Islands was completed Saturday and the construction of a rainwater purification system that will provide drinking water on the island will be finished in December, 2013.

"The efforts to boost the local economy and improve the lives of residents are the best way to declare our sovereignty," Deng Zongde, a researcher with the Tourism Research Centre at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

"The development of tourism in Xisha can also help strengthen public consciousness of ocean protection and national defense," said Deng, adding that tourism can help boost local economic development if local infrastructure construction expands to more areas and the tourist services are upgraded to a higher level.

Sansha was officially established in July to administer the Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha Islands.

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