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Opinion: Transformation of Hainan Into International Economic Base Requires Decisive Reforms

The Phoenix Island resort in Sanya, Hainan province, is seen in September 2015. Photo: VCG
The Phoenix Island resort in Sanya, Hainan province, is seen in September 2015. Photo: VCG

I arrived in Hainan in 1987. At the time, Deng Xiaoping had plans to push Hainan toward the international market and set up the first socialist free trade zone there. But by 1993, Deng’s plans had been pushed aside. In the late 1990s, Hainan became one of the country’s slowest-growing provinces.

At the turn of the millennium, there was talk of turning Hainan into an international tourism destination. By 2009, this had become a national-level strategy. The construction of international tourism infrastructure kick-started the development of Hainan’s tourism-focused modern services industry. But in practice, there were some contradictions between preferential policies and opening-up. In the past two years, Hainan has followed General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important 2013 remarks on Hainan, renewing the search for how to use the greatest level of opening-up to create a bigger special economic zone. Everyone believed the key was to construct a Hainan free trade port. On April 13, to my great excitement, Xi himself announced plans for a free trade zone and free trade port to be established in Hainan. 

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