Legislation for Island Protection in China
Recently, the draft of Island Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China was reviewed for the first time during the ninth meeting of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People’s Congress. In order to “protect the ecological system of islands, rationally develop and utilize the natural resources, maintain the ecological balance of islands and the surrounding seas, and stimulate the sustainable development of economy and society”, the draft law establishes the fundamental principles of “scientific planning, placing priority on protection, rational development, and sustainable utilization” for island protection in China. Besides systematic regulations on the protection of island eco-systems and the utilization of uninhabited islands, it articulates the planning for island protection, the protection of island eco-systems, and the administration of special projects.
In the chapter on “Island Protection Planning”, the draft law sets up an island protection planning system composed of many levels: national; coastal provinces, regions and municipalities; coastal cities and towns; coastal counties, and usable uninhabited islands. It also articulates in detail the principles, contents, evaluation, approval, revision, and announcement of the plans.
The chapter on “Island Ecological Protection” is composed of three sections: general descriptions, special descriptions of inhabited islands, and special descriptions of uninhabited islands. The stated goals of the draft law are to prevent the destruction of island ecology, to rigorously control the construction of buildings and facilities on islands, engineering projects of sea filling and island connection, to monitor stone and sand extraction, as well as deforestation, and to carefully protect beaches, vegetations, coral reefs, fresh water sources, and other aspects of human settlement and history. It is stated that the profitable use of uninhabited islands must have prior approval so as to avoid destruction and waste.
In the chapter on “Management of Islands for Special Use”, the draft law establishes special institutes for the protection of islands located in essential marine areas, such as the islands within marine reserves, those for scientific research and those for other special uses, so as to ensure more stringent ecological protection.