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(Blog) China's Fishermen Explain Why They Think the Sea Is Theirs

2015-06-08 08:47:22       source:Washington Post

June 7, 2015

"Little boats with noisy engines puttered purposefully down the river and out toward the South China Sea. Big vessels - ships, really, with three or four decks, and heavy equipment - lay tied up close to the crowded town, looming over the low buildings along the bank. Then a workhorse of the sea - high-bowed, about 40 feet long, wheelhouse astern - slipped by. It was heading out for a week, or more likely a couple of weeks, on the open water. Crewmen, stripped to the waist, lathered up and washed from a barrel of water on deck as their trip began. The boat cleared the last bulkhead and then let loose with dozens of firecrackers that hung in strings over the sides.

We had arrived by bus: fifteen reporters from a dozen countries, on a tour arranged by the East-West Center of Hawaii. We were in Tanmen, on the island of Hainan, at the northern approaches to the South China Sea, to talk with fishermen. We were not going from boat to boat looking for someone with tales to tell. Our local escorts had arranged a meeting on the paved walkway along the south bank of the river. A delegation of retired fishermen was there to receive us and tell us about their livelihoods."

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