Owning an island is developers' dream

By Ma Yujia
0 CommentsPrint E-mail China.org.cn, April 20, 2011
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China has announced plans to sell off some of its uninhabited islands. But reconciling development with conservation is likely to be difficult.

An uninhabited island in Weihai, north China.[File photo]

An uninhabited island in Weihai, north China.[File photo]

On April 12 the Chinese authorities released a list of 176 desert islands they intend to sell to the public. More islands are expected to be added to the list in the future.

The authorities said that 50-year usage rights to the islands will be sold by auction to domestic or foreign companies, other qualified organizations, or private individuals.

Some eccentric billionaires may bid for an island, but in practice the greatest interest is likely to come from resort developers, and the announcement has caused widespread concern among conservationists.

"Many people dream of owning an island and living there like a god," an official from Guangdong Oceanic and Fisheries Administration said. "After the news was released, many people called to ask for more details."

But so far nobody has submitted a formal application to buy an island.

One problem is the hefty investment required. Yang Kun, of the Shenzhen Fishery Bureau, gave 0.75 hectare Zhouzai Island as an example.

The regulations state that buyers must pay the entire 50-year usage fee up front. In the case of Zhouzai Island the total would come to 9 million yuan (US$1.38 million). So whoever wants to take over the island must first raise this sum.

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