Youngest Prov­ince Turns 30

Beijing Review - - Editor’s Desk -

China’s largest spe­cial eco­nomic zone (SEZ) was born when the coun­try’s top leg­is­la­ture adopted de­ci­sions on set­ting up Hainan Prov­ince and the Hainan SEZ three decades ago.

The rul­ings were made at the First Ses­sion of the Sev­enth Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress on April 13, 1988. Hainan was al­lowed to ap­ply more re­laxed poli­cies on for­eign in­vest­ment and op­er­ate a more flex­i­ble eco­nomic man­age­ment sys­tem than other SEZs.

The is­land spun off from south China’s Guang­dong Prov­ince to be­come the youngest prov­ince and em­barked on a unique path of re­form and open­ing up.

The es­tab­lish­ment of Hainan Prov­ince came at a time when the nascent re­form and open­ing-up pol­icy still faced some doubts, and Hainan be­came a pi­o­neer in the drive. Com­pared with the first batch of 14 coastal cities to open up to for­eign in­vest­ment in 1984, Hainan was the only prov­ince open­ing up to the out­side world as a whole.

As the only pro­vin­cial SEZ in China, Hainan func­tioned as a test field for re­form and open­ing up. The prov­ince pi­o­neered a num­ber of re­forms. For in­stance, it adopted a stream­lined ad­min­is­tra­tive sys­tem, which has pro­vided valu­able ex­pe­ri­ences for China’s in­sti­tu­tional re­form. China’s re­form and open­ing up gath­ered steam af­ter late Chi­nese leader Deng Xiaop­ing’s fa­mous south­ern tour in 1992. Against this back­drop, Hainan ex­plored a unique ap­proach to de­vel­op­ment based on its ad­van­tages as China’s largest SEZ and an in­ter­na­tional tourism is­land with an en­vi­able nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment. Its fa­vor­able poli­cies for tourists in­clude visa ex­emp­tion for 26 coun­tries, tax re­bates and con­ve­nient air routes, mak­ing the is­land prov­ince an ideal choice for both do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional tourists.

Nev­er­the­less, Hainan has yet to de­velop its po­ten­tial to the fullest. The prov­ince still con­jures up the pri­mary vi­sion of beaches and an over­heated real es­tate mar­ket. It needs to make break­throughs in open­ing up, ur­ban ser­vices, mar­ket man­age­ment and in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment.

This year marks the 40th an­niver­sary of the launch of China’s re­form and open­ing-up pro­gram. Hainan has an im­por­tant strate­gic role to play in open­ing up in the new era. On an in­spec­tion tour of the prov­ince in April 2013, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping called on Hainan to take the lead in open­ing up in or­der to pro­vide fresh ex­pe­ri­ences of an open eco­nomic sys­tem for other parts of the coun­try. Xi made the call with a view of the gen­eral pic­ture of all-round re­form and open­ing up na­tion­wide.

Hainan’s fu­ture is there­fore wor­thy of our ex­pec­ta­tions.

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