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21 April
Sunday

Asia

China wants to realise its dream of "hi-tech paradise"

Hainan will be transformed into a digital free trade zone

Photo: Синьхуа

/NOVOSTIVL/ With just one year left to turn the economically troubled southern island province of Hainan – known as China’s Hawaii – into a world class free trade zone, its officials have been busy during Beijing’s 11-day National People’s Congress, the country’s annual rubber stamp parliamentary sessions. This article appeared in the South China Morning Post.

"We are doing three days’ work in one day for the opportunities (arising from the free trade zone plan), " Liu Cigui, Hainan’s Communist Party boss, said in a provincial panel meeting last week which was open to journalists.

But, behind closed doors, Liu and his team are struggling to meet the ambitious targets set by the grand plan – personally announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in April last year – to transform the tropical island into China’s latest free trade zone (FTZ).

As part of China’s push to open its doors to foreign investment amid a slowing economy, the central government has vowed to grant foreign firms greater economic freedom on the island, with priority given to the development of the trade, tourism and hi-tech sectors.

The targets for the province are clear. By 2020 Hainan is expected to be operating as a "high standard and high-quality FTZ promoting foreign trade and investment and acting as a "pilot zone for the reform and innovation of China’s tourism industry".

By 2025 Hainan’s free trade port system should have taken shape and, in 2035, it is expected to have matured into a globally influential trading centre for the digital age.

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