China’s central government has unveiled a new policy package for Hainan province that outlines its transformation into a sports gambling hub, as well as the establishment of the country’s first true free trade port.
President Xi Jinping recently announced that 30 years following its establishment as an independent administrative entity, Hainan province would be converted into a trial free trade zone and become host China’s first free trade port.
Beijing has since provided further details on its plans for the island province with the release of the “CCP Central Committee and State Council Guidance Opinions on Supporting the Comprehensive Reform and Opening of Hainan” (中共中央 国务院关于支持海南全面深化改革开放的指导意见).
While the official Chinese media initially emphasised ambitions to transform Hainan province into a pilot free trade zone, the Guidance Opinions also outline plans to make the island a thriving sports betting and gambling hub.
According the Guidance Opinions the Chinese government will “explore the development of a competitive sports lottery and large-scale international instant sports lottery” in the province, as well as “encourage the growth of horse-racing, and support projects such as the construction of a state-base for physical education in southern China.”
Other industries targeted for development in the province include the cultural sector, tourism and shipping, with the Guidance Opinions flagging “support for Hainan connecting cross-national ocean liner tourism lines” and “support for Sanya and other ocean liner ports developing open sea tourism line trials, and expediting the development of Sanya as a home port for ocean liners.”
With regard to trade, the Guidance Opinions call for the “establishment of a Hainan free trade port construction investment fund.”
“The relevant departments of the central government will promptly delegate relevant administrative authorities and provide full reform independence to the Hainan province government, based on its needs with respect to the establishment of a free-trade pilot zone, and the exploration and implementation of a free trade port policy that suits Hainan’s development orientation.”
Hainan province will “establish trade exchanges for international energy and bulk commodities,” with Beijing supporting the “lawful and compliant establishment of trading exchanges in Hainan for international energy, shipping, bulk commodities, property rights, equity and carbon emissions.”
The Guidance Opinions also stress environmental protection measures, pointing to a gradual ban on the sale of petroleum vehicles, as well as a ban on the production, sale and usage within Hainan province of non-degradable plastic bags and plastic cutlery.