China Opens Cinema on Contested Island in South China Sea

The new cinema represents China’s latest attempt at legitimizing its ownership of the contested area.

Yongxing Island. Photo: Weibo.

China has built a new cinema on Woody Island (called Yongxing Island by China) in the disputed South China Sea, according to state media reports.

Over 200 residents and soldiers of Sansha, China’s newest city, showed up to the Sansha Yinlong Cinema to watch the Chinese movie “The Eternity of Jiao Yulu” Saturday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The new theater represents China’s latest attempt to legitimize its ownership of the contested area after already building a farm, lighthouses, a tourist resort, and a hospital.

“The cinema will show at least one film every day, so residents and soldiers on Yongxing Island can enjoy films simultaneously with moviegoers across the country,” Gu Xiaojing, general manager of Hainan Media Group, which operates the cinema, told Xinhua.

The cinema is equipped with advanced projection equipment, “including the latest 4K digital projectors as well as a 3-D perforated screen,” according to the report.

Chen Zijian, the general manager of Hainan Film Company, said they have also purchased two mobile projection units and plan to screen films for free on more islands within the municipality to meet the demands of residents.

China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan all assert sovereign rights over parts of the South China Sea, which is rich in resources and boasts key maritime routes.

The new cinema marks a continuation of China’s policy of expanding its civilian infrastructure in the disputed waterway to assuage criticism that it is developing its man-made islands there as military outposts.

According to Xinhua, Sansha city, which it calls “China’s newest city in the South China Sea,” already has a stadium and opened its first public library in April last year.