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Hainan Special: Hainan grasps once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

By Huang Yiming (China Daily)

Updated: 2015-03-12 07:28:37


Hainan province in South China is looking to play a major role in the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives, its governor said. The provincial authorities are eying up opportunities to build a major sea transport and tourism hub in the region.

Liu Cigui, governor of Hainan province, said the province should seize opportunities to put forward initiatives to further international cooperation and open up markets. He made the comments at a meeting of delegates of the National People's Congress on Friday.

"The initiative is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Hainan province," Liu said.

President Xi Jinping put forward the One Belt, One Road concept in 2013. The plans are set to put the world's second-largest economy on track to rejuvenate the two ancient trade routes and further open up markets.

Hainan, which is an island province at a juncture between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean in the southernmost of China, functions as a major sea transport hub and sees more than 100,000 ships pass through each year.

It was also an important communications hub on the ancient Maritime Silk Road and a major typhoon shelter for ships.

Liu said the province had a number of advantages that would allow it to play a major role in the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, including a well-protected ecology and entrepreneurship accumulated from building the Special Economic Zone in the 1980s.

Other advantages include favorable central government policies to develop tourism and the area's geographical advantages. The roughly 3 million expatriate Chinese and international forums, including the Boao Forum for Asia, also give the province an edge above other provincial areas, Liu said.

"The ecological environment is productivity in itself. Hainan has the country's best quality air and seawater. The Air Quality Index in Hainan was excellent for 99 percent of the year in 2014. It also leads the country in ecological remediation and protection of coastlines. We should make full use of the ecological advantages," he said.

In December 2009, the State Council introduced a policy that included a number of favorable measures for Hainan, including tax refunds, visa-free stays for visitors from 26 countries, yacht tourism management and opening-up of low-altitude space. The province's total volume of export and imports reached close to 100 billion yuan in 2014, according to provincial customs.

The province's trade volume with countries along the Maritime Silk Road increased sharply. The total export and import volume with the 32 countries reached 45.4 billion yuan in 2014, a year-on-year increase of 28.3 percent. The increase was 5 percentage points higher than the growth rate of the provincial average with all countries.

Liu said the province would make full use of its role as a major sea transport hub in the building of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It will also make sure the Boao Forum for Asia continues to strengthen ties between the province and other Asian countries. Liu said Hainan would also look to become a pioneer in the building of the so-called One Belt, One Road, and continue to boost the maritime sector.

Industries including fishing, offshore oil and gas development and maritime tourism will be prioritized in the development of the maritime sector, he said. The province will also seek to strengthen regional cooperation with Southeast Asian countries through enhanced trade and economic cooperation, Liu said. He added that the province is set to embark on substantive cooperation with ASEAN countries on several fronts. A sub-forum on the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road is due to be held during this year's Boao Forum for Asia, according to the provincial government.


(China Daily 03/12/2015 page5)