China’s ‘Hawaii’ to al­low horse rac­ing, sports lot­ter­ies

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Business -

China is en­cour­ag­ing its south­ern is­land of Hainan to de­velop horse rac­ing and in­tro­duce a raft of re­forms as Bei­jing pushes the trop­i­cal tourism des­ti­na­tion as a bea­con of openness.

The prov­ince will be urged to ex­plore open­ing new types of lot­ter­ies con­nected to sports and in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions, ac­cord­ing to the guid­ing opin­ion jointly is­sued by the Com­mu­nist Party Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and State Coun­cil which was pub­lished Satur­day by state news agency Xin­hua. It marks a change of tack for the Com­mu­nist gov­ern­ment which has long banned most forms of gam­bling in main­land China and comes against the back­drop of its mas­sive cam­paign against cor­rup­tion. But those con­cerns ap­pear to be tak­ing a back seat as Bei­jing looks to ramp up con­sump­tion to fuel China’s econ­omy and re­bal­ance away from the in­vest­ment and ex­ports that have led the way for four decades. The plan aims to make Hainan, an is­land off China’s south­ern coast, a “trial free trade zone” to try out the re­forms Bei­jing has pledged to bring to the main­land for years with few tan­gi­ble suc­cesses.

The out­line comes days af­ter Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping pledged a “new phase of openness” for China at Hainan’s an­nual Boao Fo­rum for Asia, a Davos-like meet­ing of in­ter­na­tional lead­ers.

We will “build Hainan into an im­por­tant open door for China onto the Pa­cific and In­dian oceans,” the plan says.

Sec­tors to open up to fur­ther for­eign in­vest­ment in­clude health­care, ed­u­ca­tion, sports, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, in­ter­net, cul­ture and fi­nance. Bei­jing also wants to to po­si­tion Hainan as a “cen­tre of in­ter­na­tional tourism con­sump­tion,” a goal which has faced halt­ing progress de­spite sandy beaches and mas­sive spend­ing on plush re­sorts. The prov­ince has not proven an in­ter­na­tional draw so far, at­tract­ing fewer than a mil­lion for­eign vis­i­tors in 2016 - com­pared with over seven mil­lion in Thai­land’s Phuket, ac­cord­ing to data com­piled by Bloomberg News. As part of mak­ing the is­land green and sus­tain­able, the re­form pack­age will push the in­tro­duc­tion of elec­tric ve­hi­cles and “grad­u­ally pro­hibit sales of gaso­line-pow­ered ve­hi­cles,” Xin­hua said.

De­vel­op­ment of a gam­ing and tourism in­dus­try in Hainan could also cre­ate a new ri­val for semi-au­tonomous Ma­cau, the world’s largest gam­ing mar­ket and the only part of China where casino gam­bling is le­gal, dwarf­ing Las Ve­gas.

A coach teaches horse­back rid­ing on a field built on the roof top of a shop­ping mall in Haikou in China’s south­ern Hainan prov­ince. China is en­cour­ag­ing the south­ern is­land of Hainan to de­velop horse rac­ing and in­tro­duce other re­forms as Bei­jing pushes the trop­i­cal tourism des­ti­na­tion as a bea­con of openness.

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