South China's Hainan Province will launch a pilot program this year that encourages people to bid for the rights to exploit the waters in the South China Sea, with analysts believing the move is intended to safeguard territorial sovereignty.

Zhang Jun, director of the provincial department of ocean and fisheries, was quoted by China National Radio as saying that the pilot program will be started in territorial waters with huge market demands.

The rights include 13 types of marine exploitation, including aquaculture, transportation, energy and mineral resources exploration and tourism, according to the State Ocean Administration (SOA).

Zhang noted that the approval process of territorial waters and uninhabited islands will be improved and a bidding or auction system for land reclamation and uninhabited islands will also be drafted, while authorities vow to supervise all development projects.

The SOA vowed in January to push forward the marketization of the development of islands and territorial waters.

"There should be less government intervention in resource allocation and they should give full play to the market to create motivation for the marine economy," Liu Cigui, head of the SOA, was quoted as saying by the Shanghai Securities News.

Wang Xiaopeng, a maritime border expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that it is natural that Hainan plays a leading role in market development of territorial waters as it is the largest marine province in China.


SOURCE: Global Times


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