HARBIN - Chinese and Russian local authorities have been engaged in talks to co-develop a border island, Heixiazi, into a tourist destination visa-free for each other's citizens.
A delegation composed of planning officials from Northeast China's Heilongjiang province have just concluded a meeting on the island's development with the government of Khabarovskiy Territory in Russia.
Peng Jielin, a member of the Chinese delegation, said on Monday both sides had expressed willingness to turn the island into a visa-free zone at the meeting, and agreed to set up a joint cooperation committee to hold regular talks on boosting Heixiazi's development.
"The Chinese-Russian committee is expected to hold the first meeting in April," Peng said.
China and Russia unveiled boundary markers on Heixiazi Island in 2008. Under a bilateral agreement, half of the 335-square km island close to Fuyuan county, Heilongjiang, belongs to China. The other half belongs to Russia.
China kicked off a series of infrastructure projects on the island last year. A major road bridge construction project is scheduled to link Fuyuan County with the island by October 2012.
The Russian side has also unveiled ambitious investment plans aimed to turn the island into a high-end tourist attraction with catering and amusement facilities, a horse racing course, a logistics center and luxury houses.
Du Jiahao, vice governor of Heilongjiang, said earlier this month that the provincial government would engage in active talks with the Russian side on the development of the island.
He said Heilongjiang hoped to turn the border island into an eco-tourist zone for leisure travel.