A national park in the South China Sea is needed to better preserve the marine ecology in the region, deputies from China's top legislature said Tuesday on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC).
Protection of unique and rich resources in the South China Sea has always been given great importance, especially when some of the resources, such as coral reefs, are very fragile, Deng Xiaogang, an NPC deputy, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
A national park should be the next move to further protect the region's ecology, said Deng, also head of the Department of Ecology and Environment Protection of South China's Hainan Province.
China released a plan in September 2017 to build 10 national parks by the end of 2020. The planned parks include the protection of pandas, rivers and forests, with none of them involving marine life.
Hainan is qualified to build the first national marine park, and could learn from the experience of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, Deng said.
"A national park in the region can improve people's awareness of the region's importance, and the South China Sea should be a textbook for marine protection in China," Wang Changren, another NPC deputy and Party chief of the Hainan Tropical Ocean University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
When asked whether the disputes in the South China Sea will hinder the process for a national park, Wang stressed that countries in the region should reach a consensus on the protection of marine ecology in the vast waters.
China's current knowledge on the South China Sea, such as ocean currents and water temperature, is very limited, which makes scientific research in the region more urgent, deputies said.
China's manned submersible Jiaolong completed a research mission in the South China Sea, Shandong-based news site iqilu.com reported Thursday. It took high-resolution photos and video of seabed and collected samples of basalt, sediments and near-seabed waters and creatures.
In late February, China sent the research vessel Haimeng (sea dream) to the South China Sea to observe the ocean environment and explore oil and gas reserves in the region. China's new manned submersible, Shenhai Yongshi or "deep sea warrior," passed a State safety test in November 2017, with experts previously telling the Global Times that the submersible will be used in the South China Sea to help explore the biological and mineral resources in the deep sea.
The South China Sea has a much deeper average water depth than other Chinese waters, and the water molecule structure in the region is also different. Such advanced equipment helps to broaden understanding of the region, which is the basis for future explorations, Wang said.