As families around China prepare for Lunar New Year celebrations next week, shoppers in one southeastern city can add another delicacy to their shopping list: “patriotic fish.”
Photos of shoppers in Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian Province, thronging around cases of frozen fish and sea urchins circulated in China on Wednesday. This was no ordinary seafood, however. It was from Mischief Reef, which has been controlled by China since 1994 but is part of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea also claimed by the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
“You can steam it, make soup, braise, slice or fry it — it’s all possible!” Lin Zailiang, 82, a former government official who heads the fish-farming program, told the gathered shoppers. Behind him, a blue billboard advertised the products as “South China Sea ‘Patriotic Fish’ — the Third Season.” The entire 8,300 pounds of seafood sold out in two hours, according to the state-run China News Service.
But Mr. Lin, white-haired and wearing a garland of orchids around his neck, also made it clear that the program was about more than just providing delicacies for the table.
Cultivating fish at Mischief Reef, called Meiji Reef by the Chinese, is equivalent to “safeguarding national sovereignty,” Mr. Lin was quoted as saying. “Because once there are residents there — us — it becomes our territory, according to international ocean law.”
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