Amidst tensions in South China Sea, China says Hainan Free Trade Port construction has gained momentum  

We will actively advance emerging marine industries such as marine intelligent equipment, says Hainan Governor  

April 19, 2024 10:12 pm | Updated 10:12 pm IST - Beijing

Chinese Maritime Militia vessels are pictured near the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea. File.

Chinese Maritime Militia vessels are pictured near the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea. File. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Amidst ongoing tensions in the South China Sea, Liu Xiaoming, Governor of Hainan province — the southernmost and the only tropical island province of China in the South China Sea — said that the construction of the Hainan Free Trade Port (FTP) has taken shape and gained momentum, six years after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s announcement of establishing FTP.

Hainan, a lush tropical island, is not very far from the Philippines and there have been tensions between both countries over the disputed South China sea.

Also read: Second Thomas Shoal | A symbol of defiance

The FTP blueprint is ambitious and as per the first phase of the plan, China aims to establish about 35,000 sq km island as China’s most open economic region by 2025. The ultimate goal is to build a tropical Dubai in the middle of the South China Sea by 2035.

“The construction of the Hainan FTP has taken shape and gained momentum, serving as both a booster and an accelerator for Hainan’s high-quality development,” the Governor said while addressing a press conference on April 11. “Going forward, we will actively advance emerging marine industries such as deep-sea technology, marine intelligent equipment manufacturing, and deep-sea aquaculture. We have a greater goal of building a stronger Hainan with a thriving marine industry over the next decade,” he added.

The Governor said that the government will also focus on the aerospace industry as Hainan is ideally suited for the development of the aerospace industry due to its geographical latitude.

“The No. 1 launch pad of China’s first commercial spacecraft launch site was completed at the end of last year, and the construction of the No. 2 launch pad was also finished at the end of March this year, expected to be capable of supporting regular launches starting in June,” he said.

The Governor said that many leading domestic commercial aerospace enterprises are competing for launch opportunities.

“With a focus on the rocket chain, we will also expand and promote the establishment of ‘space plus’ industrial projects, such as the satellite chain and the data chain, striving to develop the Wenchang International Aerospace City into a hub that integrates space launches, R&D, manufacturing, tourism, and international exchanges.,” he said.

Tensions between China and the Philippines have risen over repeated clashes between the two nations’ coast guard vessels in the disputed South China Sea, AP reported earlier this month. Beijing has defended its operations in the South China Sea and blamed the United States for creating tensions.

(The correspondent is in China at the invitation of the China Public Diplomacy Association.)

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