Pratas Islands: Wikis

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Pratas Islands
Disputed islands
Other names: Dongsha Islands
東沙群島 (Dongsha Qundao)
Pratas island.jpg
Pratas Islands from space, January 1986.
Geography
Location South China Sea
Coordinates 20°43′N 116°42′E / 20.717°N 116.7°E / 20.717; 116.7
Total islands 3
Major islands Pratas Island
North Vereker Bank
South Vereker Bank
Length 2.8 kilometres (1.7 mi)
Width 0.865 kilometres (0.537 mi)
Administered by
 Republic of China
City Kaohsiung
Claimed by
 People's Republic of China
County-level city Lufeng, Shanwei
 Republic of China
City Kaohsiung
Qing Empire
Zhou (country subdivision) Huizhou
Demographics
Population none permanent

The Pratas Islands or Dongsha Islands (traditional Chinese: 東沙群島pinyin: Dongsha Qundao) consists of three islands located in northeastern South China Sea, 340 km (211 mi) southeast of Hong Kong. They are controlled by the Republic of China (Taiwan). The People's Republic of China asserts sovereignty over these islands along with all other territories currently controlled by the Republic of China.

Contents

History

First called Moon Island, the Pratas Islands were acknowledged as Chinese territory during the Qin and Han dynasties. Further development was undertaken during the Ming era. A Japanese businessman named Nishizawa Yoshizi occupied Pratas Island during World War II and the islands remained under Japanese control until 1946.

The islands have historically been uninhabited yet nations, including China and Japan, have claimed them to be their overseas territory. After World War II, the islands and the sea around them were mandated by United Nations.

In the Journal of Science April 1867 there is a nine page article entitled The Natural History of Pratas Island in the China Sea by Dr. Cuthbert Collingwood, Naturalist on board H.M.S. Serpent. It describes what was observed, especially bird life, during a visit of two days while the survey ship lay at anchor.

Today, the islands are administered by the Republic of China which calls them the Dong-Sha Islands (Traditional Chinese: 東沙群島; Mandarin Pinyin: Dōngshā Qúndǎo; lit. East Sand Islands) and assigns them the postal code 817.

Geography

Pratas is located 850 km southwest of Taipei and 340 km southeast of Hong Kong in the northern part of the South China Sea or the Pratas Terrace (20°43′N 116°42′E / 20.717°N 116.7°E / 20.717; 116.7Coordinates: 20°43′N 116°42′E / 20.717°N 116.7°E / 20.717; 116.7). The island is 2.8 km (2 mi) long and 0.865 km (1 mi) wide.

The island is made up of coral atolls and reef flats. Only Pratas Island is above sea level, Northern Vereker and Southern Vereker atolls are under water. Brush, vines and bushes cover some of Pratas and rest is white sand.

Other flora and fauna on Pratas:

  • silver silk tree
  • strawberry tung tree
  • coconut tree
  • little Terns
  • turnstones
  • gullbilled Terns
  • parrotfish
  • starfish
  • rock lobsters
  • crabs
  • sharks

The island is shaped like a ring and consists of three major entities in the area:

  • Pratas Island (東沙島)
  • North Vereker Bank (北衛灘)
  • South Vereker Bank (南衛灘)

There are also some seamount formations nearby, but not part of the main island:

  • Jianfeng Seamount (尖峰海山)
  • Maojia Seamount (芼架海山)
  • Beipo Seamount (北波海山)

Settlements

As a disputed island group with no permanent inhabitants, they are visited only by military personnel or researchers.

A runway is located on the north end of Pratas Island with a small airport terminal at the eastern end. The airport is used by the ROC military. A main shack and subordinate shack are located on the southeast end of the island. Two piers on the southeast shore allow for small watercraft to land.

The other structures on the island include:

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Pratas Island Landmark

The Pratas Island Landmark is an obelisk erected after 1946

Pratas Island Stone Tablet

"In 1954 the ROC Government stationed on Pratas erected a stone tablet on the southern side of the island, facing the ocean."[1]

Pratas Da Wang Temple

"The Pratas Da Wang temple is dedicated to 'Kuang Kang' and 'The South China Sea Goddess'- Mazu. It is said that the statue of Guan Gong came to Pratas Island on a canoe in 1948. The soldiers on Pratas Island built a temple to worship him in 1975. Today, the canoe is still kept in the temple. The joss sticks and candles are donated by the soldiers who had returned home, as was the golden sign hung in front of the statue. The temple is an important symbol for them, providing them with spiritual sustenance. There is an 'Ever Green' pavilion in front of the temple which was also built by the soldiers. It is the most verdant place on the island."[1]

The Pratas Island Measuring Memorial Stone Tablet

"In July 1991 the Kaohsiung City Government erected the Pratas Island Measuring Memorial Stone Tablet as a symbol of the fact that Pratas Island falls within the jurisdiction of Kaohsiung City."[1] Within Kaohsiung, the islands belong to Qijin District.

Stone Tablet Symbolizing National Sovereignty Over Pratas

The Minister for Internal Affairs of the ROC erected the South China Sea Defense stone tablet to declare Republic of China sovereignty again in 1989.[1]

Pratas Triangulation Bench Mark

"The ROC Government established this spot as the triangulation point for Pratas Island in December 1991. There are words on each side of the base of the triangulation point stone tablet. It reads 'The Pratas Triangulation Point' on the front, and 'Longitude: 116 degrees 43 minutes 42.5601 seconds east, Latitude: 20 degrees 42 minutes 6.2415 seconds north, Height: 2.4875 meters.' The words 'Defend the South China Sea,' written by the commander Lo Ben Li, were also engraved on the stone tablet. In addition to making it more convenient to survey and draw navigational maps, and to construct and develop facilities on the island, the establishment of the triangulation point is also the basis of our sovereign rights."[1]

Pratas Library

"The library is located on one side of the main plaza, and is the center for soldiers to obtain spiritual nourishment. The library now contains more than two thousand books."[1]

Pratas Military Post Office

"The ROC area code for Pratas is 817, and the military post office is Office No. 67. The Ministry of Transportation and Communications issued the 'South China Sea Islands Map Stamps' in 1996, as a set of two stamps. The inscription 'South China Sea Defense' from the national stone tablet on Pratas Island was printed on the five-dollar stamp, and the 'Defend the South China Sea' inscription from the national stone tablet on Itu Aba Island (Peace Island) was printed on the seventeen-dollar stamp. The background was the south China coastline, Taiwan and Hainan Island with the blue sky and sea. This is the first time that the ROC had issued stamps with the theme of the South China Sea."[1]

Pratas Fishermen's Service Station

"In 1987 the military and civilian residents built the 'Pratas Fishermen's Service Station' together. The station was built in traditional Chinese courtyard house style, and provides convenient services for fishermen and boats in the South China Sea, insuring the fishermen's safety and upholding our country's sovereignty. The services provided include lodging, medical rescue, entertainment and supply. The Pratas Fishermen's Service Station not only serves the fishermen, it also provides lodging for the scientists who come to conduct research on the island."[1]

Government

Although there are no long term inhabitants on the island, Pratas is administered by the government of Kaohsiung City.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h From Taiwan's National Tsing Hua University's "Discovering the South China Sea" article. http://vm.nthu.edu.tw/southsea/english.travel3_3.htm

External links


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