While many foreign investors are flocking to Hainan Island in search of a piece of the action, some are having second thoughts. Transportation aside, they wonder if the island has sufficient energy to sustain an economic takeoff. Their worries, however, are unfounded.
In Changpo, preparations are under way to construct a 50-square-kilometre open-cast mine. The mine's upper layer has a deposit of 150 million tons of brown coal, with the shallowest part of its vein laying only 40 metres underground. Oil shale, with a verified reserve of 2,400 million tons, dominates the middle and bottom layers of the mine, which, if mined at an annual rate of 10 million tons, will not be exhausted in more than two centuries.
Naturally the Changpo mine enjoys top priority among the 10 key construction projects being undertaken on Hainan. With prospecting and designing completed, construction began this summer. It is estimated that by 1987, the mine will produce 500,000 tons of brown coal a year. An ancillary power plant will also be built, with an eventual generating capacity of 300,000 kw a year.
At present, the island depends on its hydroelectric stations for its power supply. Their combined capacity is 190,000 kw a year, or 20 per cent of Hainan's hydroelectric potential. One drawback of hydroelectric generating, however, is that capacity dwindles considerably during the dry season, affecting economic development. To solve that problem, Hainan is first planning to build a 50,000 kw thermal power plant in Haikou, which will be completed ahead of the Changpo plant. Eventually, the power industry will lead the island in its economic development.
Bidding will be announced for developing Hainan's land-based and offshore oil and gas resources. Once full production begins, the nearby Yinggehai and Beibu Gulf Oilfields will ensure a constant supply of energy. The abundant energy resources will serve as the prime mover for Hainan's economic maturity.
After years of economic readjustment, the state is now in a better position to provide more material and financial assistance for Hainan's development. Over the last few years, many scholars, scientists. engineers and technicians have visited the island and presented their opinions on the local development. Over 6,000 professionals have applied for jobs on Hainan. More than one million overseas Chinese are, in one way or another, doing their bit for the island's construction.
The central government has granted the local authorities greater decision-making powers so that they can take whatever measure is conducive to making the people rich and the island thrive.
The constract system introduced in Hainan's rural areas has fired the peasants with an ardour for production, thereby improving their lot. The reform in industry and commerce is under way in some areas and will begin in other places. Efforts are being made to earnestly carry out the principle "to each according to his work," improve management and operation and raise economic results. While the state economy is thriving, the collective and individual sectors of the economy are proceeding vigorously.
Acting in accordance with the islanders' wishes, the Hainan Administrative Office is drafting an outline for future large-scale development in five fields. First. Hainan will be built into China's leading centre for tropical crop production, complete with a sizeable processing industry for rubber, oil palms, coconuts, sugarcane and tea. Second, reforestation, animal husbandry, aquaculture and fishing will be developed, so as to turn the island into a base for the production of timber, animal by-products and aquiproducts. Third, the mining industry will be boosted and on this basis the island will set up its own metallurgical, cement and glass industries. Fourth, a large petrochemical industry will be built and Hainan turned into a supply centre for oil development in the South China Sea, the Beibu Gulf and the Yinggehai Oilfields. Fifth, tourism will be developed. These five fields will form the backbone of Hainan's economy. For that purpose the island's 18 counties and cities will be grouped into six economic subareas, each with its own emphasis of development.
Since last year, steps have been taken so that this ambitious yet realistic plan can be fulfilled by the turn of the century. Construction has begun on most of the 20 or so projects planned by the island. Some of them are to be completed towards the end of this year. Within three or five years, a solid foundation will be laid for Hainan's economic takeoff and better conditions will be available for investors from other parts of the world.