Chinese government’s grand plan to open up Hainan is politically and economically significant not only for the province.
Hainan island is a small province with gorgeous beaches, extinct volcanoes, hot springs, sea pearls, coconut groves, plantations of coffee, tea, mangoes, and bananas. The island has become a popular tourist destination. According to local statistics the number of visitors doubled every year.
Experts estimates that a stronger Hainan economy is good news for Hong Kong and Macau. The government recognizes the island’s achievements as a special economic zone. It also sets a goal of turning Hainan into a free-trade port, with major elements of the system in place by 2020.
The program for Hainan seeks to implement the “Belt and Road Initiative”, and to remake itself into not just an international tourist draw, but also a center for sustainable ecological development.
Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a development strategy officially proposed that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries, primarily the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and the ocean-going Maritime Silk Road (MSR). The initiative was known in English as the One Belt and One Road Initiative (OBOR) until 2016.
China calls the initiative “a bid to enhance regional connectivity and embrace a brighter future,” while critics call it a push by the Asian big nation to take a larger role in global affairs with a China-centered trading network.
The directive encourages Hainan to develop its free-trade zone by liberalizing some rules, such as by allowing hotels access to foreign TV channels, and improving its infrastructure.
Most importantly, the government proposes the development of beach and water sports, as well as horse racing, and to “explore the development of sports lottery and instant lottery on major international events”.
Hainan directive urges the island to develop local talent and cooperate with Hong Kong and Macau in maritime affairs.
The Hainan tourism develops will provide a window of opportunity for mainland Chinese capital to expand to the province. This will lead to a balanced model of economic and tourism development in the southern border regions of China, stretching from west to east, and from Hainan to Fujian.