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Guangdong to sell off islands
( 2003-12-09 22:31) (China Daily)

South China's Guangdong Province is drafting detailed regulations to guide the development of its large number of uninhabited islands.

"The new regulations will be introduced and come into effect next month,'' according to Bai Hua, director of the Waters Administrative Department under Guangdong Provincial Bureau of the Ocean and Aquatic Products Industry, Tuesday.

Starting next year, Guangdong will sell its islands for tourism, transportation, trade, warehouse and industrial development through a public bidding process, Bai said.

The buyers will include both domestic companies and individuals, Bai said.

Sino-foreign joint venture companies that are controlled by Chinese firms can also bid for the islands, Bai added.

Currently foreigners are not allowed to bid.

All the investors have to hand over detailed development plans, involving environmental and ecological protection measures, before they bid for the islands.

And no military facilities are allowed to be constructed on these islands, Bai said.

The land use right for the islands will be within 50 years.

Bai admitted that his bureau has received many telephone inquires and written applications from both companies and individuals that have showed great interest in developing Guangdong's islands since his bureau revealed to auction off its islands in July.

Guangdong, having the country's longest coastline, has a total of 1,434 islands. And more than 90 per cent of the islands have no residents at all.

And 604 of these islands each cover an area of more than 500 square metres which can develop both tourism, warehouse, transportation and industrial projects.

Bai is expecting the islands will be cost from 100,000 yuan (US$12,000) to more than 100 million yuan (US$12 million) each.

Experts believed that development of Guangdong's uninhabited islands would have great potential, particularly in tourism and industrial development.

Most of the islands are situated near the prosperous coastal cities of Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Huizhou, Shantou, Shanwei, Yangjiang, Maoming, Zhanjiang and Taishan.

And these islands, which have little pollution, usually enjoy abundant ocean and aquatic resources, expert said.

But they warned that the province is frequently struck by typhoons and other natural disasters, lack fresh water and poor transportation facilities would also make it hard to develop these islands.

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