Friday, September 2, 2016

China opens a school on contested South China Sea island

Sansha City Yongxing School, a newly built Chinese primary school and kindergarten in the South China Sea, welcomed 29 new students on Sept. 1.

It is “China’s southernmost school,” according to state broadcaster CCTV. But according to an international tribunal’s ruling in July, the island—also called Woody Island—isn’t part of China. The island is part of the Paracel Islands chain, called Xisha by China, which Vietnam also claims sovereignty over.
The 4,000-square-meter school’s fall semester opening day was reported by several Chinese media outlets. The school cost over 36 million yuan ($5.4 million) to build. Eight teachers are assigned to the 21 students in the kindergarten, and all of the students are children of soldiers and staff stationed on the island. There are around 1,443 residents on Sansha Island.
The first class for the students was a geopolitical class that focused on China’s ownership of the sea. Teacher Tang Hualing led the young students to repeat after her: “China has undisputed sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and its neighboring sea areas.”

Both Tang and her husband are teachers at the school, and their son is enrolled there.