SCIO briefing on the progress of Hainan Free Trade Port policies

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General Secretary Xi Jinping has stressed on different occasions that lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets. How will Hainan protect its unique environment as a matter of national importance and ensure that the environment will only improve and never get worse?

Shen Xiaoming:

General Secretary Xi Jinping said during his inspection tour in Hainan that the lucid waters, lush mountains, blue sea, and azure sky are Hainan's strongest advantages and best assets. They are precious objects that can neither be bought nor borrowed. We understand that the lucid waters, lush mountains, blue sea, and azure sky in Hainan are not only precious for Hainan people but also for all Chinese people. Therefore, to best protect Hainan's unique environment is a matter of national importance and one that we must be fully aware of.

To ensure that the environment will only get better and never get worse is something we are resolved to accomplish and these efforts are being led by the construction of the national pilot zone for ecological progress in Hainan. To protect the environment, we will uphold two important concepts. First, we must simultaneously improve the "three environments" (ecological environment, policy environment, and business environment) to support the building of the free trade port. Second, in the development of the free trade port, all other issues must give way to environmental protection. If any issue conflicts with environmental protection, the latter prevails. In other words, we will by no means seek development at the cost of the environment.

Guided by the two concepts, we will mainly focus on three tasks. First, by setting a goal: that Hainan's environment will rank among the best in the world by 2035. Second, we must prioritize governance. We have strengthened governance in the process of rectifying the problems found by the central environmental supervision task force and the national marine supervision task force. We won't rest until these problems are thoroughly resolved. Third, we will launch flagship projects to lead environmental protection efforts. After General Secretary Xi Jinping's April 13 speech, the CPC Hainan Provincial Committee and the Hainan provincial government have planned a number of flagship environmental projects. For example, we have designated 4,400 square kilometers in central Hainan island as a national tropical rainforest park to protect China's only tropical rainforest. We have made a new energy development plan which aims to raise the share of clean energy in Hainan's installed power capacity to about 85% by 2030, a very advanced level even around the world. We also announced that Hainan will no longer sell petrol-fueled vehicles after 2030 and instead promote clean energy vehicles. We have also adopted a ban on disposable non-degradable plastic products which is now gradually being expanded across the island. Additionally, we have vigorously promoted the use of prefabricated buildings and their number has doubled for three years in a row.

Hainan's environment is good. This is a feeling shared by everyone who has been to Hainan. However, we in Hainan are fully aware that a good environment does not mean good environmental protection. Therefore, we need to keep working hard and strive to leave the lucid waters, lush mountains, blue sea, azure sky, and a gradually mature free trade port to the generations to come. That's all I'd like to share on this question. Thank you.

China Reform Daily:

Mr. Cong, in your opening remarks, you introduced the development of policy framework in the Hainan FTP. As one of the main leading departments, what has the NDRC done in this regard? Can you elaborate a little? Thank you.

Cong Liang:

Thank you for your question. Just now, I gave a general overview of the development of the policy framework in the Hainan FTP, which is the result of the joint efforts by all departments and Hainan province. Since 2020, the NDRC has fully grasped and put into practice the principles from General Secretary Xi Jinping's major addresses and instructions, and implemented the decisions and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. We have innovated methods, fully performed our duties, and lost no time in making important policies and advancing major projects. Alongside Hainan province and other departments, we have jointly promoted the construction of the policy framework in the Hainan FTP.

The NDRC's work can be summarized as "three specials and one major." We have rolled out three special policies for the Hainan FTP, and boosted the construction of major projects in the Hainan FTP.

The first special policy is the Special Administrative Measures for the Access of Foreign Investment in Hainan Free Trade Port (Negative List). To further increase the liberalization and facilitation of investment in the Hainan FTP, accelerate the forming of globally competitive opening-up systems and policies, and turn the Hainan FTP into a flagbearer and window for opening-up in the new era, on Dec. 31, 2020, the NDRC and the Ministry of Commerce released the Special Administrative Measures for the Access of Foreign Investment in Hainan Free Trade Port (Negative List) (2020 Edition). Compared with the negative list with 30 restricted items for pilot free trade zones released in 2020, the negative list for the Hainan FTP was shortened to 27 items. The prohibitions and restrictions for some other items were also reduced, aiming at supporting the Hainan FTP to take a lead in further opening-up. Going forward, according to the requirements of the master plan, we will continue to shorten the negative list, and gradually allow more convenient and freer investment in Hainan.

The second special policy is the Catalogue of Encouraged Industries of Hainan FTP. In order to guide the industries in the Hainan FTP to develop in the right direction, and promote the clustering of domestic and international high-quality enterprises, on Jan. 27, 2021, the NDRC, the Ministry of Finance and the State Taxation Administration jointly introduced the Catalogue of Encouraged Industries of Hainan FTP (2020 Edition). Based on the current National Industrial Catalogue, it has added 14 more major categories and 143 sub-industries, basically covering all major industries and sectors in the Hainan FTP. The catalogue not only includes a wide range of items, but also highlights the development needs of the tourism industry, the modern service industry and the high technology industry. Next, we will make appropriate adjustments to the catalogue according to the needs in the construction of the Hainan FTP.

The third special policy concerns the special measures to ease market access in the Hainan FTP. In order to better leverage the distinct advantages of the Hainan FTP, which is positioned to experiment with the highest level of policies, and to explore a market access policy system, a supervision model and a governance institution with more flexibility and efficiency, several days ago, the NDRC and the Ministry of Finance jointly rolled out a series of special measures. Focusing on the functions of the Hainan FTP, we have proposed 22 measures for special market access that will deliver greater benefits in sectors including medical care, finance, culture and education. We will effectively promote the concentration of high-quality production factors, and speed up the fostering of new advantages with Hainan characteristics in cooperation and competition.

The "one major" refers to advancing the construction of major projects in the Hainan FTP.We have studied and made an action plan for the construction of major projects in the Hainan FTP, and established a reservation system for major projects.We have released the Regulations on the Management of Projects within Central Government Budget under Major Regional Development Strategies (Advancing Overall Reform and Opening-up in Hainan), and allocated 10 billion yuan to support the software and hardware infrastructure construction in the Hainan FTP. We have issued the Smart Hainan Plan and the Plan for Hainan to Build a Modern Comprehensive Transport System, so as to advance the construction of major projects in new-type infrastructure, transport and energy. We have included Hainan into the pilot project of the real estate investment trusts in infrastructure — the REITs pilot project — in a bid to support Hainan in vitalizing its existing assets, and expand financing channels in constructing major projects.

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