Southern island to be comparable to HK and Singapore in next 30 years: residents
Residents of South China's Hainan Province have high expectations for the island's economy after the central government announced plans in mid-April to build the southern province into a free trade port by 2025.
The drafting of detailed plans to implement further opening-up measures and moves to attract investment from outside Hainan are underway, a civil servant surnamed Pan in Haikou, capital of Hainan, told the Global Times. "We're working day and night to ensure the policy can come out soon," he said.
Hainan is already drawing an increasing number of investors seeking opportunities from a more opened economy.
A taxi driver surnamed Li told the Global Times on Thursday that over the last month, he has been carrying passengers from across China and from foreign nations who have come to Hainan to investigate investment opportunities in sectors such as tourism, horse racing and services.
The new round of opening-up is also different from that of three decades ago, when the central government declared the island would be the country's fifth special economic zone.
Li, who came to Hainan in 1988, said that a lot of speculative investors swarmed into the island's property sector at that time, which led to the first housing bubble in the country and mounting bad loans in 1993. Hainan's economy then stalled for a decade.
But under the new plan, Hainan's development is expected to be driven by tourism, modern services and high-tech sectors, shifting away from the previous model's reliance on the property industry.
The local government's determination to transform the island's economic structure is also reflected by new restrictions on home purchases launched in late April and the recent move to suspend the registration and transfer of license plates, to encourage the adoption of new-energy vehicles.
Many Hainan residents said that they expect the local economy to become much more dynamic, and even to become comparable to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or Singapore in the next 25 to 30 years.
Tang Wen, a 30-something employee in the tourism sector, moved his hukou, or household registration, to Hainan on Thursday, availing of the local authorities' scheme to bring in 1 million talented people to the island by 2025. He told the Global Times that he is proud to be a Hainan resident.
Under the scheme, Tang will receive 1,500 yuan from the government every month for the next three years as a rental subsidy.
"The lack of talent has been a bottleneck impeding Hainan's progress. But now, with the talent program, the new arrivals can effectively accelerate the process of building the island into the country's largest free trade port," he said.
Some mixed feelings
Some residents have mixed feelings about the further opening-up.
Tang said that with more investment flooding in, some people's living standards will also rise substantially. "Could this lead to an enlarged wealth gap between the rich and the poor on the island?"
Also, Huang Qionghua, general manager at local housing developer Youcaihua, told the Global Times that thousands of people in his industry have lost their jobs following the housing purchase restrictions last month.
Some of them have resorted to selling fruit or other food to make a living.
"Maybe the local government, while rolling out new policies, also needs to find a solution for those who become unemployed," he said.