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For sale: coastal islands
By Qiu Quanlin (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-07 08:54

Domestic companies and individuals - including those from Hong Kong and Macao - will be able to buy land-use rights on uninhabited islands along Zhuhai, the coastal city in South China's Guangdong Province, starting next year.

Foreign enterprises and individuals are currently not allowed to make such purchases, according to officials with the provincial Bureau of Ocean and Aquatic Products.

Bai Hua, director with the bureau's water department, told China Daily yesterday that four to five uninhabited islands along the coastal city will be sold off through a public bidding process next year.

The province is expected to sell off four to five such islands each year in the future, Bai said.

The province drafted a rough regulation last year to guide the development of the large number of uninhabited islands.

At present, Guangdong boasts a total of 1,434 islands, more than 90 per cent of which have no residents, according to Bai.

And 604 of them cover an area of more than 500 square metres, Bai said.

According to the regulation, the islands' land-use rights will be limited to 50 years.

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

Bai added that investors are not allowed to develop just any industry on the islands.

"All investors should develop the islands in accordance with regulation, or they will be punished," said Bai.

Bai suggested that investors conduct business of tourism, transportation, trade, warehousing and other trades in the islands.

But the businesses should not violate the environment or local ecology," Bai said.

Bai added that detailed regulations on how to buy and develop the islands will be issued by November.

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