A tiny disputed island in the South China Sea now has its own cinema as China continues to entrench its occupation of the disputed waters.
On Saturday, residents and armed forces personnel stationed on Woody Island sat down to watch The Eternity of Jiao Yulu in the communist state’s most southerly picture house.
Gu Xiaojing, general manager of Hainan Media Group, said: “The cinema will show at least one film every day, so residents and soldiers on Yongxing Island can enjoy films simultaneously with moviegoers across the country.”
Yongxing is the Chinese name for Woody Island, which is part of the Paracels and also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.
According to the state-controlled news agency Xinhua, the cinema is equipped with advanced projection equipment, including 4K digital projectors and a 3D perforated screen.
The report said: “The opening of the cinema is part of a plan by local cultural authorities to establish community services on islands under Sansha’s jurisdiction.”
Sansha is the recently coined name of a new province covering the South China Sea, which has its ‘seat’ at Woody Island.
China took full control of the Paracels in 1974 after a naval showdown with Vietnam.
Despite its status as a povince, it’s thought there are no more than a few thousand settlers scattered throughout the disputed waters.
The number looks set to rise as China continues to build airfields and ports that it claims are intended to open the area to domestic tourism.
However, much of the building work has apparently been of a military nature.
China claims 90 per cent of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea. The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan lay claim to parts of the sea, through which about $5 trillion of trade passes every year.
As we reported elsewhere today, China has backed joint exploration with the Philippines for oil and gas in the waters.