Yagong Island | Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

Yagong Island | Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative


Yagong Island is a speck of land in the middle of the East China Sea. It’s also one of the most controversial pieces of real estate in Asia. The island is claimed by both China and Japan, and the dispute has been ongoing for over 50 years. Yagong Island has become a symbol of mistrust and regional tension between the two countries. Today, we’re going to take a look at Yagong Island through the lens of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI). AMTI is a data-collection platform that provides access to information on maritime activity throughout Asia. Through AMTI, you can learn about all sorts of interesting things, like vessels passing through the area and their cargo. In this blog post, we’ll explore what Yagong Island is and what it means for regional tensions.

Location and Geography

Yagong Island is located in the East China Sea, about 100 kilometers south of Shanghai and 90 kilometers northwest of Japan. The island has a land area of about 1.4 square kilometers and is uninhabited. Yagong Island is part of the Huangyan Archipelago, which consists of five islands and several rocks. The archipelago constitutes an important fishing ground and a habitat for seabirds. In 1970, the Chinese government claimed Yagong Island as part of the country’s territorial waters. However, the validity of this claim is not recognized by international law.


Yagong Island is located in the East China Sea approximately 120 nautical miles northeast of Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. The island is administratively part of Jinshan County, northeastern Zhejiang Province. Yagong was first discovered by Europeans in 1592 and named by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan after a Chinese god of thunder.

The Chinese military established a garrison on the island in 1937 as part of its ongoing efforts to secure strategic islands in the region. In early 1945, following Japan’s defeat in World War II, the island was occupied by American forces and used as an airbase for operations against Japanese targets in Southeast Asia. In 1978, following the Sino-Soviet split, Zhuhai Special Economic Zone was established on Yagong Island and it became one of China’s most important commercial hubs.

Today the island is home to several civilian businesses including a port facility that handles exports from the Zhuhai special economic zone as well as cargo bound for other parts of China. The island also hosts a military garrison and research center operated by the Third Department of the General Staff Quanzhou Military Region.

People and Culture

Yagong Island is an isolated and uninhabited island located in the South China Sea about 1,500 kilometers from Hainan Island. It is administered by China as part of Sansha City, a prefecture-level city under the jurisdiction of Guangdong Province. The island has a population of zero.

The island has been the site of numerous land reclamation projects by the Chinese government in recent years to create new islands and expand Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. The largest project undertaken on Yagong Island was the construction of an artificial island measuring approximately 12 square kilometers, which was completed in late 2016.

Despite its small size, Yagong Island has become a major political center for Beijing due to its strategic location near other features that have been added to China’s maritime territory over the past few years, including Subi Reef (occupied by Malaysia) and Fiery Cross Reef (occupied by Vietnam). The construction of an airport on Yagong Island will further enhance Beijing’s control over this region.

Due to its strategic location, Yagong Island is also frequented by military vessels from countries such as Vietnam and the United States.

Transport and Communications

The transport and communications infrastructure on Yagong Island is inadequate to meet the needs of its residents. The only ferry service that operates between the island and mainland China is unreliable, with waits of up to two hours at peak times. There are also no airports or ports on the island. There are limited public transportation options, with buses operating sporadically and taxis not available at all. Residents have to rely on private cars or boats to get around. This makes it difficult for people living on the island to access essential goods and services, as well as participate in economic activities outside of the island.

In addition, the lack of a reliable transport network has led to a boom in private car ownership on Yagong Island. This has resulted in increased air pollution and congestion, as well as a decline in public transportation use. The high costs of private car ownership also deter residents from using public transportation, exacerbating the transport problems on Yagong Island.

Economic Development

Yagong Island is a small island located just south of the mainland city of Dongguan in Guangdong Province, China. The island has a population of around 2,000 people and is home to a small fishing village. However, the island’s potential for economic development is huge due to its proximity to major ports and transportation hubs in southern China.

The island has excellent access to shipping lanes and can be reached by ferry from Dongguan or by road from Guangzhou. Infrastructure on the island is limited, but there are plans to build a new port on the island that would make it easier for businesses and tourists to reach. Currently, most businesses on the island are maritime-related, such as boatbuilding and fishing. There are also plans to develop tourism on the island, which could bring in extra money for its residents.

Environmental Issues

Yagong Island is a small uninhabited island located in the Andaman Sea between India and Myanmar. The island is considered an ecological hotspot as it has a high diversity of flora and fauna. However, the island faces environmental challenges such as overfishing, coastal erosion, and pollution.

Overfishing is a major concern on the island as many local fishermen rely on the exploitation of marine resources for their livelihoods. Coastal erosion is also a serious issue as the island is vulnerable to rising sea levels due to its location at the mouth of the Bay of Bengal. The use of toxic chemicals by local fishermen has also resulted in the pollution of water bodies on the island. Efforts are being made to address these issues through awareness-raising campaigns and development projects aimed at improving livelihoods and protecting natural resources.


Yagong Island is one of the many islands that make up the Spratly Islands, a disputed territory in Southeast Asia. The island is situated close to the coast of Vietnam and features several reefs and shoals that are claimed by both countries. The ASMIT has been monitoring developments on Yagong Island since early 2016 and has reported numerous incidents of Vietnamese Navy vessels harassing Filipino fishermen working in the area. These activities have raised concerns about Beijing’s intentions in the area and its willingness to protect claims over territory that it regards as its own.

Oliver Thomas