SANSHA, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- The newly established city of Sansha in south China's Hainan province has begun to embrace investment for the purpose of development, with two companies recently receiving approval to register in the city.
The Industrial and Commercial Administration Bureau of Hainan province said this week that a construction company and a tourism investment company were approved to register in Sansha in August and September, respectively.
Wen Zheng, head of the bureau's administrative approval office, said on Friday that the establishment of Sansha has caught the attention of investors, adding that the office has received multiple queries about setting up businesses in Sansha.
"Investors are being attracted by the great opportunities in the virgin lands of Sansha, as well as the city's vast waters," Wen said.
The State Council, or China's cabinet, in June approved the establishment of Sansha, a prefecture-level city that will administer the Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha island groups and their surrounding waters in the South China Sea.
The city of Sansha was officially established in late July, with its government seated on Yongxing Island, the largest island in the Xisha Islands group.
"As the first two companies registered in Sansha, their business scopes match well with Sansha's need for infrastructure construction and tourism development," Wen said.
Considering the limited space available in Sansha, enterprises registered in the city are allowed to set up their offices in other cities, authorities said.
The Industrial and Commercial Administration Bureau of Hainan will speed up approvals for business registration applications in order to attract more companies, according to Wen.
The local government said it will capitalize on Sansha's good reputation and strength in resources and offer preferential policies in order to attract large companies.
Construction on several environmental preservation projects kicked off in August, including a sewage processing and pipeline project and a garbage collecting and transferring project.
The government of Hainan will prioritize environmental protection in all construction projects, as Sansha's ecological environment is fragile and non-renewable, provincial governor Jiang Dingzhi said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Sansha government is working on a development plan that will include transportation and ecological protection as part of the city's infrastructure upgrades.
Local authorities have planned 31 major projects that will require an estimated investment of 13.3 billion yuan (2.1 billion U.S. dollars), with plans to open the Xisha Islands to tourists before the upcoming weeklong National Day holiday, which begins on Oct. 1.
Sansha will also make intensified efforts to modernize its fisheries and develop marine oil and gas, according to Luo Baoming, Communist Party of China (CPC) chief of Hainan province.
Data from the Hainan Provincial Fisheries Research Institute indicates that the potential catch in waters administered by Sansha adds up to 5 million tonnes, with fishermen able to sustainably catch 2 million tonnes annually.
However, the actual catch stands at just 80,000 tonnes every year.
"We can send at least another 1,450 fishing vessels to develop fishing grounds in the South China Sea," said Li Xiangmin, president of the institute.
Gigantic oil and gas deposits lying under the ocean have also been eyed by industry giants.
The South China Sea's oil reserves are estimated to be around 23 to 30 billion tonnes, with gas reserves believed to total about 20 trillion cubic meters, according to the Ministry of Land and Resources.
In late August, the China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC), the country's largest offshore oil and gas producer, opened 26 new offshore blocks for cooperation with foreign companies, with 22 blocks in the South China Sea.
China was the first country to discover and name the reefs, islets and surrounding waters of the Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha islands and exercise sovereignty over the area, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
The ministry said the establishment of Sansha will help the country to better administer the islands, carry out construction projects and protect the environment of the South China Sea.