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Hainan Issues Rules for Development of Its Offshore Islands

The uninhabited Boundary Island in Sanya, Hainan province, has become a major tourist attraction because of its many rare animals and plants. Photo: VCG
The uninhabited Boundary Island in Sanya, Hainan province, has become a major tourist attraction because of its many rare animals and plants. Photo: VCG

Hainan province has published rules regulating the development of its offshore islands — part of its broader push to focus its economy on tourism and service industries.

The new rules, published Wednesday by the Hainan Provincial Oceanic and Fishery Department, stipulate that individuals and companies intending to develop projects on unpopulated islands must first file requests with it and urban planning departments.

Prospective developers must submit a detailed plan specifying the areas to be developed; the methods, number and dimensions of any structures; and measures to prevent environmental and ecological damage to the island and sea.

The longest permitted development periods are 50 years for port and shipbuilding projects, followed by 40 years for public services, 30 years for salt manufacturing and mining, 25 years for tourism and entertainment, and 15 years for animal-breeding activities.

Hainan’s oceanic department will conduct on-site investigations after requests are filed to determine whether the projects will have an effect on the area’s military activities and military facilities, as well as navigation channels for naval vessels.

The document didn’t provide information on the locations or the sizes of the islands where development will be allowed.

In 2011, the national-level State Oceanic Administration issued a list of unpopulated islands for industrial and agricultural development. The list comprised 176 islands in eight coastal provinces, including Liaoning, Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong and Hainan. Hainan had six islands on the list.

China has about 11,000 islands, of which more than 10,000 are uninhabited, according to statistics from the State Oceanic Administration. As of the end of 2016, 17 unpopulated islands had been approved for development. At least three each were in Guangdong, Fujian, Zhejiang and Liaoning provinces, while only one was in Hainan. That project was approved for tourism development.

Development of unpopulated islands has faced roadblocks in China. Problems include the need to build infrastructure from scratch, coupled with the fact that many offshore islands suffer from natural disasters such as typhoons.

Contact reporter Pan Che (chepan@caixin.com)

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