The century-old dream of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, the vanguard of the Chinese revolution, consisting of traveling by train from the Chinese mainland straight through to Hainan Island, became a reality Tuesday morning.
China's first-ever maritime rail service was launched on Tuesday morning with the loading of a locomotive, two freight train cars, and a number of trucks onto a railway ferry.
The ferry left Hai'an on the southern tip of Leizhou Peninsula, Guangdong Province, around 9:15 am and reached Nangang Port of Haikou, the provincial capital of Hainan, after a voyage of 50 minutes across the Qiongzhou Straits, which separate Hainan Island from the Chinese mainland.
Chinese Vice Premier Wu Bangguo cut the ribbon at the inauguration of the maritime railway service. Among the attendants to the grand ceremony at Nangang Port of Haikou were high-ranking railway officials and local government officials from both provinces.
Hainan, with a population of eight million, is China's largest special economic zone. It has a land area of 35,000 sq km, a marine area of 2 million sqare km, and a coastline of 1,500 km.
The lack of access has slowed economic development on the island, which has few industries and a well-developed tourism industry. Hainan is also home to various subtropical and tropical agricultural products.
(Xinhua News Agency January 7, 2002)