This Day in History: Hainan Island Becomes a Province

By Jesse Pottinger, April 13, 2022

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On April 13, 1988, Hainan Island and its surrounding island groups, formerly a division of Guangdong Province, were declared the nation's newest province by the Chinese government. 

At the same time, the new province of Hainan was also granted status as the country’s fifth special economic zone. To this day it remains the largest of all seven SEZs.

The new title allowed Hainan to import – duty-free – any materials necessary for the production of exported or domestically sold goods.

The province was also exempt from the government’s export quotas. In addition to unlimited export internationally, Hainan-produced goods would now be favored for sale on the Chinese mainland as well. 

For the first two years, foreign investors were also exempt from any government profit taxes, and land rights on the island could be bought from the government for 70 years.

The new policies were enormously successful in promoting foreign investment. In the province’s early months, investments of over USD110 million poured in from over 100 different companies. In 2007, industry in Hainan exceeded agriculture for the first time as the main economic resource.

Hainan today remains both the smallest and southernmost of China’s provinces. The island has gained a reputation both domestically and internationally as a vacation hotspot – famed for its beautiful beaches and tropical climate – and it continues to grow and develop as an economic frontrunner.


READ MORE: Hainan Province officially declared 'World Longevity Island'

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[Cover image via Avery h/t Flickr]

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