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Backgrounder: Chinese do fishing around Nansha Islands for 7 centuries

(Xinhua)    13:35, May 02, 2016

The Chinese have long gone on expeditions and conducted fishing and other activities on the South China Sea as the Nansha waters is abundant with resources.

During the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1912) Dynasties, Chinese fishermen from Hainan Island regularly fished in the waters surrounding the Nansha Islands. They mainly caught conches, sea cucumbers, hawksbills and tridacna.

Besides fishing, Chinese fishermen put up wooden cabins, built temples, dug water wells and grew coconut, banana and vegetables on the islands.

Many of them lived on the islands permanently, and chose to be buried there after death. On Beizi Dao, there were two tombs dating back to the Qing Dynasty belonging to two Chinese citizens.

Thanks to generations of activities on the South China Sea, Chinese fishermen accumulated a great deal of knowledge and experience regarding navigation, climate, sea depth, terrain features and freshwater sources.

Geng Lu Bu (a collection of sea route manuals), created collectively by Chinese fishermen more than 600 years ago, records not only the terrain features and oceanic condition of the islands in the South China Sea, but also names the islands, marks their locations and identifies reefs, shipping lanes and fisheries.

Geng Lu Bu was deemed a talisman for fishermen. But it also serves as evidence that Chinese fishermen were the first to exploit the Nansha Islands.

Moreover, foreign data also records the working and living conditions of Chinese fishermen.

Between 1844 and 1867, the British ship Rifflemen surveyed the waters around Taiping Island, home to Chinese fishermen. The island's inhabitants aided the British in carrying out their work.

The British sailors recorded the Taiping Island as Itu Aba in English, a pronunciation based on the island's dialect.

In 1933, after France had seized one of the Nasha Islands, the Chinese newspaper Shen Bao reported on the continued daily activities of the Chinese people, noting that the island's tens of thousands of inhabitants share habits and a language with the Hainan residents.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Gao Yinan,Bianji)

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