Facing the South China Sea, China's largest tropical island,
Hainan Province, has been newly designated to create a comprehensive
strategy to tackle its marine resources.
In term of its
land, Hainan is the smallest province in China, but taking
into consideration its 2.2 million square kilometer of sea
territory, it is the largest.
As the country's
largest special economic zone (SEZ), Hainan is now looking
beyond its land and now wants to tap into the sea. The development
of its marine industry, however, is still in its primary stage
and is limited to offshore fishing and aquatic breeding.
With the industry
designated as the province's most hopeful component to boost
the economy, it will be expanded to more areas than before,
according to the 10th Five-Year Plan of the province (2001-2005).
Located in the
South China Sea and Beibu Gulf and occupying 44.6 percent
of the country's sea territory, Hainan has abundance of marine
resources, of which natural gas and marine biological resources
are the most appealing investment areas to big overseas investors,
said Chi Fulin, director of China (Hainan) Institute for Reform
and Development. The industry can effectively increase Hainan's
international reputation, said the economist.
A report from the
China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) shows that the
South China Sea, known as the second "Middle East"
for its oil and natural gas reserves, has three of China's
five most productive natural gas pools.
over the past two decades helped verify 5.17 trillion cubic
meters of natural gas reserve. The US company, Chevron, was
among the first group of foreign oil firms to become involved
in Sino-foreign oil offshore exploration in the South China
The managing director
of Chevron Overseas Petroleum Inc's Asia Business Unit, Wes
Lohec, said earlier this year that the company hopes to get
more involved in the development of the offshore natural gas
in the sea area, because the market potential for clean energy
in China's inland alone is good.
China has pledged
to lift the consumption of natural gas in the share of the
non-renewable energy from 2 percent to 8 percent by 2010.
By then, Hainan,
the closest processing center for offshore energy, will become
a crucial energy supplier for provinces on the southeastern
coast to help sustain dynamic economic growth. The energy-stringent
region has witnessed the fastest economic growth in the past
of Hainan's offshore energy potential has already been noticed.
It provides Hong Kong with 2.9 billion cubic meters of natural
gas a year as the fuel for power generating through a 780-kilometer
pipeline laid under the sea.
Hainan has decided
to turn the northwest tip of the Yangpu Economic Zone, located
on the northwest tip of the city, into an energy processing,
storing and export port. The port will also support the island's
major economic projects, which will cost 53 billion yuan (US$6.38
billion ) to build over the next five years.
The time is ripe
for Hainan's marine industry to take off, which has received
more help from the Central Government. Chen Qingtai, deputy
director of the Development Research Center of the State Council,
said earlier this month that marine industrial undertakings
will become a theme for the 21st Century. They include items
as diverse as fishing, aquatic processing, tourism, biomedicine,
transportation and so on.
As one of the most
beautiful beaches in the world, the finest ports and 40 percent
of China's 1,500 aquatic species, the Hainan SEZ is one of
the best to develop the industry in China by opening more
areas of the sector to overseas investors.
Under its strategic
development plan, the province will build four marine industrial
centers by 2010 for aquatics processing, oil and gas refining,
tourism and deep-sea biological resources processing, respectively.
Witnessing the strong trend, more than 150 companies from
southeastern China, like Shandong, Fujian, Guangdong, Shanghai,
Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as Canada and Japan flocked
to the island, which has brought in over 1.2 billion yuan
(about US$ 144 million) of investment to the industry since