China opens first-ever cinema on disputed South China Sea island

Woody Islands| Image from Wikimapia

China is definitely one step ahead of its rival-claimants in the contested island in the West Philippine Sea which has been the source of conflict among Asian neighbors in recent years.

In another unprecedented move, China opened its movie theater on Woody Island or Yongxing Island; the largest island of the Paracels group which has been under Beijing’s control since 1974 but is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.

Two years ago, the deployment of Chinese rigs on Woody Island sparked outrage in Vietnam; resulting in violent protests that lasted for weeks.

On Saturday, around 200 soldiers and Chinese residents attended the inaugural screening of the state-of-the-art cinema; the first-ever cinema built on contested territories.

“The opening of the cinema is part of a plan by local cultural authorities to establish community services on islands under Sansha’s jurisdiction,” said state news agency Xinhua.

“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 added.

Aside from the modern movie house, the island also boasts of a stadium and a library for its residents.

The Chinese government is also planning to roll out more cinemas in other islands in the coming months.