State may offer subsidies to isle developers

Updated: 2011-11-12 08:37

By Wang Qian (China Daily)

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SHANGHAI - Developers eyeing projects on uninhabited islands off China's coast could receive financial support from the government, as long as their plans pass muster.

In the search for fresh economic growth, the country is looking to make the most of its island assets.

Until now, the biggest hurdle facing developers has been the lack of infrastructure on these barren tracts of land. The cost of electricity and drinking water supplies, and roads and docking facilities often run into the millions.

"If the project meets the government's purpose, companies may be eligible for subsidies for infrastructure construction," which will drastically reduce their expenditures, Lu Caixia, director of island management for the State Oceanic Administration, said on Thursday.

However, he added that so far no detailed information on the financial support has been released.

According to the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), China will promote island protection and development, especially on unused isles.

In April, the State Oceanic Administration released a list of 176 uninhabited islands lying off Zhejiang, Fujian, Hainan, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shandong and Liaoning provinces, and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, that will be made open to domestic and foreign developers.

Lu said Chinese companies have shown excitement about the move, and most plans concentrate on tourism and entertainment. No foreign firms have so far applied.

"We welcome foreign developers, but the list doesn't include islands with military and political importance," said an island management official who gave his name only as Wang.

He said overseas companies can apply to local oceanic and fishery bureaus, who assess all proposed projects with experts from the State Oceanic Administration.

Plans should include details about the intended use, how much of the land will be covered with plants, and about waste and sewage disposal.

"In simple cases, applications take about two months. If the case is complicated, the waiting period may be longer," Wang added.

On Tuesday, the State Oceanic Administration issued China's first license to develop an uninhabited island to Huang Yimin, a businessman from Ningbo, Zhejiang province, who since 2009 has spend more than 3.4 million yuan ($536,000) making Danmenshan Island into a tourist resort.

According to the administration's guidelines released in August, new buildings should be at least 20 meters from a island's coastline, while developers are encouraged to build water-storage projects.

China Daily

(China Daily 11/12/2011 page2)