Parceleyjar Suđurkínahaf,
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PARCELEYJAR
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Utanríkisrnt.

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Parceleyjar (His-sha Ch’ün-tao, Pinyin Xsha Qundao, Quan Dao Hoang Sa) eru óbyggđar og ţrćtuepli Kína, Tćvan og Víetnam.  Eyjaklasinn telur u.ţ.b. 130 kóraleyjar og rif í Suđur-Kínahafi, 400 km austan Miđ-Víetnam og 350 km suđaustan Hainan-eyju (Kína).  Parceleyjar skiptast í Amphitrite-klasann í norđaustri og Crecent-klasann í vestri auk útpóstanna Triton í suđri og Lincoln í austri.  Á ţessum lágu og gróđursnauđu eyjum, sem eru ekki stćrri en í mesta lagi 2˝ km˛, er ekkert drykkjarvatn.  Mest ber á fjölbreyttu fuglalífi og skjaldbökum og talsverđum gúanóbirgđum. 

Áriđ 1932 lýsti Franska-Indókína yfir innlimun eyjanna og kom ţar fyrir veđurathugunarstöđ.  Japanar hernámu sumar eyjanna í síđari heimsstyrjöldinni (1939-45) en hurfu á brott og sögđust ekki gera kröfur til ţeirra.  Áriđ 1947 hernámu kínverjar Woody-eyju, sem er stćrst Amphiutrite-eyja.  Franska-Indókína hélt áfram rekstri veđurathugunarstöđvarinnar á stćrstu eyju Crescent-klasans og síđar Víetnamar.  Ţegar lýđveldiđ Tćvan var stofnađ, gerđi ţađ einnig kröfu til yfirráđa á eyjunum.  Uppgötvun olíu í jörđu undir Suđur-Kínahafi leiddi til alvarlegs ástands, ţegar Kínverjar réđust til landgöngu á eyjunum og lagđi undir sig veđurathugunarstöđina í kjölfar samninga Víetnama viđ erlend olíufélög.  Kínverjar náđu öllum eyjunum undir sig og síđan hafa stöđugar deilur stađiđ um ţćr.

The Kaohsiung City government is eyeing tourism in the Parcel Islands after a trip to the islands by Kaohsiung mayor Frank Hsieh. Hsieh said that he wants to turn the islands into a "shining sapphire," but only under the condition of no destruction to the ecology. With this in mind, a traffic control system will be instituted, no hotels will be built on the islands, tourists will be forbidden from staying on the islands overnight, and the number of visitors will be limited.

The first group of tourists to the Parcel Islands traveled last weekend on the six-ton Golden Voyage, finally reaching the islands after a 240 nautical mile trip lasting 14 hours.

Located in the South China Sea, the Parcel Islands see sporadic traffic from fishermen restocking supplies, but until last year almost no civilians had landed on the islands. Held by the ROC Navy since 1921, the islands remain a designated restricted military zone.

The Parcel Islands are formed from three coral reefs stretching 150 kilometers long and about 30 kilometers wide. Seen in satellite photos, together they look like a jellyfish. Parcel Island, at just 1.74 square kilometers, is the only island of the group that juts out of the sea. The most prominent feature of the island is the coral that extends from the western spine like tweezers. A layer of coral and shells, ground to a fine white powder by the elements, covers the entire island, hiding the soil.

The Parcel Islands receive plentiful rainfall, getting up to 300 millimeters in the month of September. In addition to palm trees, the island is covered with vines and low shrubbery. Marine life thrives in the area, with over 600 varieties of tropical fish, over 50 species of birds (mostly migratory), over 300 kinds of coral, 120 varieties of marine algae, and 40-some types of invertebrates. Development of the Parcel Islands commenced in 1964, with the establishment of the Parcel Garrison Command Force.

Due to numerous military fortifications, few sites are open to sightseeing. The most prominent site is the Parcel Island marker erected in 1945, the island's major landmark. In 1989, in order to reassert ROC sovereignty over the islands, the Ministry of the Interior erected an additional national marker with the characters "South China Sea Barrier."

Also worth mentioning is the Parcel Great King Temple on the island. Legend relates that a statue of the god Kuan Kung came ashore via canoe in 1948. Garrison troops later erected the temple, dedicated to Matsu (goddess of the sea) in 1975, keeping the canoe on display next to the temple.

The Kaohsiung City government, confident that Parcel Island can be developed into the "Maldives of the East," is aggressively working to obtain funding from the central government. The city government hopes that the recent successful civilian landing on the island will be a small step for Parcel Island, and a giant leap for Kaohsiung City in its quest to become a "maritime capital."

Published: May 25, 2000
Source: United Daily News

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