BEIJING, April 8 -- The China Youth Daily, a national newspaper, launched a survey on Tuesday asking its readers about oceans, in a bid to raise public awareness of the nation's territorial waters.
The survey, consisting of 50 questions, covers a variety of topics including China's territorial islands, seawater pollution, oceanic resources, and ocean related laws and conventions.
For example, respondents are asked to identify the world's most important straits they know, China's territorial islets across the South China Sea, as well as oceanic resources they have heard of.
Opinions are also being sought relating to problems in the country's oceanic development and whether China should defend its sovereignty when disputes arise.
The newspaper's target readership are high-school, college and university students, as well as people in their 20's.
The paper also carried an editorial explaining the purpose of the survey, arguing that the reason why China lagged behind the world's oceanic powers was because of a lack of awareness when it came to the importance of oceans.
It reviewed China's maritime history starting from Zheng He (1371-1433)'s 28-year-long expedition during which time treasure ships were sent to South East Asia, the Middle East and Africa, showcasing unrivaled ship building and navigating capabilities.
However, the editorial said, China missed an opportunity of taking the initiative in the great maritime era or even spearheading industrialization, due to a conservative mind-set preferring land over seas and agriculture over commerce.
China's last two imperial dynasties even imposed a century-long "closed-door" policy on its coastline, while European explorers like Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan were traveling the seas.
The editorial added that major threats today to China's security and development remained rooted in the sea. China not only faces dangers of islets across the South China Sea and East China Sea being taken and resources stolen, but also threats to safety when sailing through major straits.
The editorial singled out historical maritime threats from Japan, including sending warships to invade Taiwan in 1874, and provoking the first Sino-Japanese War in 1894.
"Japan till today fails to recognize its war crimes, but attempts to overturn the post World War II Asia-Pacific order and encroaches upon China's Diaoyu Islands," the editorial said. "If young people continue to overlook the importance of oceans, history might revisit itself."
Moreover, global warming and rising sea levels, as well as the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 with over 150 Chinese people aboard, highlighted the urgency of international maritime cooperation, the editorial mentioned, calling on the young to imprint "ocean awareness" on their minds.
The survey is open until April 28.