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China’s Hainan island is another view of paradise
2010-11-29 9:37:10
 The Sanya Marriott Resort and Spa has rooms looking over the sea . . . and a sweep of luxury hotels that have sprung up in recent years by what is now China’s most famous beach.

Four Miss World competitions have been held on Sanya’s shore in the past ten years. Not, of course, that this slightly dated spectacle adds any extra style to the resort.

And boosters of the area keep fairly quiet about the fact there is a huge new naval base whose concrete breakwater looms beyond the parasailors and jet-skiers out in Yalong bay.

Sanya is on the southern coast of Hainan island and faces the South China Sea, whose waters are not totally untroubled.

The military sites sits oddly with China’s efforts to turn Hainan, which is about the size of Sri Lanka and sits on China’s southernmost fringes, into an international tourism hotspot. Officials proudly describe the island as China’s Hawaii.

Back in the 1980s, the then minister of defense, Zhang Aiping, persuaded military commanders to let Yalong Bay, then a training ground for marines, be turned into a beach resort. Local officials were dispatched to Honolulu to see how it should be done.

Now plans have been announced for the construction of a satellite-launch centre at Wenchang on the island’s north-east coast. This will be completed in 2012.

Turning it to advantage the local government is planning a $1 billion space theme park alongside it. One local official was quoted in the Chinese newspapers proclaiming the future launch centre’s distinctive qualities of ‘commercialism, internationalism and openness’.

Source: The Economist