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Islands Off China Vanishing Under Weight Of Exploitation

The circular attributed the destruction and exploitation of island resources to China's "surging economy and tight land supply."
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) June 29, 2007
China boasts tens of thousands of islands but many are disappearing and others are being devastated by uncontrolled quarrying and other industrial practices, state media reported Friday. "Rampant stone quarrying and rubbish dumping have accelerated the deterioration of island eco-systems," said a circular issued by the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), according to the Xinhua news agency.

"Construction-oriented land reclamation has caused some precious islands to disappear. One construction project often eliminates several islands at a time, or even dozens."

China has tens of thousands of islands along its 18,000-kilometre (11,000-mile) coastline, which are unprotected by any anti-exploitation laws, according to the report.

Although there are no figures for the extent of the devastation, the islands worst hit by the exploitation sit off Zhejiang, Shandong and Hebei provinces on China's east coast, the report said.

Some islands are quarried for stone and sand to feed China's ballooning construction demands, while others are flattened by explosions to provide room for dumping waste.

The explosions are detrimental to the vegetation and ecology of animals on some islands and have "introduced exotic species into the ecosystem," an unnamed official said, without providing details.

The circular attributed the destruction and exploitation of island resources to China's "surging economy and tight land supply."

The report said China's cabinet was looking at legislation to protect the islands.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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