A member of the PLA Navy on guard at the radar garrison on Dongfushan Island in the East China Sea, one of China's most easterly points. WANG ZHUANGFEI/CHINA DAILY
Sailors stationed at a remote radar post spend their lives watching for ship movements on the ocean.
For more than six decades, members of the People's Liberation Army Navy stationed at a radar garrison in the East China Sea have guarded the nation's territorial waters while battling inclement weather and isolation.
However, despite being members of the Navy, they don't sail on the ocean. Their job is to watch for danger on the sea from their base at the top of Dongfushan Island, one of China's most easterly outcrops.
The island, administered by Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, covers less than 3 square kilometers and has a civilian population of only about 100. An air of neglect hangs over the place.
For almost six months of every year, the garrison buildings－on the highest point of the rocky island, about 300 meters above sea level－are shrouded in thick fog.
Even in July, when the sun is bright and the air is dry at the foot of the mountain, visibility is less than 10 meters at the top, despite strong winds. Clothes are sticky all the time, and centipedes cover the ground at night, ready to bite unwary walkers.
Sailors practice their professional skills. WANG ZHUANGFEI/CHINA DAILY
Fan Zhengjun, who has been stationed at the garrison for 22 years, is well accustomed to the stifling, humid weather.
He noted that the sea fog usually lingers on the peak for about five months every year, which affects the sailors both mentally and physically.
He recalled that 20 years ago, the unpredictable weather meant few ships docked, so the sailors rarely had vegetables to eat. Instead, they existed on stir-fried rice in soy sauce.
While their choice of food has improved, the misty weather remains a problem.
"We have to be careful when walking, because there is always moisture on the ground thanks to the mist. Even in summer, we need to use electric blankets and fans simultaneously at night to sleep. I have had rheumatism in my knees for many years," the 48-year-old said.
Every day, the sailors undertake physical exercises on the parade ground, despite the thick blanket of fog.
"I don't know whether it is harmful to our health, but I feel a little uncomfortable when breathing in the air. Sometimes when the foggy weather lasts, we feel upset or even lose our tempers due to an extended lack of sunlight," Fan said.