Sansha (三沙市) is a new prefecture-level city established in July 2012 in China's southernmost Hainan Province. It administers more than 200 islets, sandbanks and reefs in Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha islands and 2 million square kilometers of the surrounding waters in the South China Sea, where a number of sea disputes with other countries has recently surged.
The city is under the jurisdiction of Hainan and its government seat is stationed on the 2.13-square km Yongxing Island, the largest island in the Xisha Islands group.
China claimed it first discovered and named the reefs, islets and surrounding waters of Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha islands. In 1959, it became the first country to set up an administrative office to exercise sovereignty over the area.
On June 21, 2012, the State Council, China's Cabinet, approved the establishment of Sansha City. On July 17, 212, an organizing committee was set up for the legislative body of Sansha, officially beginning the formation of the government of the newly established city.
Its municipal congress has 60 delegates directly elected, and its Standing Committee has 15 members.
On July 24, Sansha City was officially established on Yongxing Island in the southernmost island province.
The founding of Sansha city is expected to improve China's management of the region and help coordinate efforts to develop the islands and protect the marine environment.
On August 25, the city launched its first infrastructure projects, which aim to strengthen environmental protection and improve living conditions for residents and servicemen stationed on the islands.
On Nov. 23, the city published its first official map, which reflects the geological information of Sansha City and South China Sea islands in a comprehensive, accurate and specific manner.
On Jan. 1, 2014, the city launched its government website and its first newspaper Sansha News.
The island has now taken the shape of a city with infrastructure including a small military airport, a sea port, roads, a clinic, a post office and an observatory.
The ship Qiongzhou III currently serves as the only lifeline sending in supplies like rice, vegetables and medicine from the mainland.
The ship with a carrying capacity of 760 tonnes can take up to 200 passengers. It makes two round trips a month, weather permitting.