China’s interest in private islands continues to grow with local media reports suggesting that two uninhabited islands off the coast of China’s populous Guangdong Province are set to form the region’s first ever private islands.
Our sources in Guangdong report that the islands, located close to the coastal city of Zhuhai, have been made available to lease in the light of new legislation relaxing the restrictions on commercial rights and usage across the province.
Initially available to lease on a trial basis, it is hoped that both Dasanzhou and Xiaosanzhou Island will pave the way for further investment in the region. Indeed, reports carried out by the State Oceanic Administration suggest that authorities in Guangdong have already earmarked another sixty potentially lucrative islands for future leasing opportunities.
The islands may be used for a wide number of purposes, including (but by no means limited to) tourism, industrial production, forestry and agriculture. Any organization or individual may apply to become an island owner for a fee, although the exact terms and conditions of the leasehold agreement are not yet clear.
Whilst the opportunity is certainly the first of its kind in within the Guangdong Province, there is already precedent for private islands in China, with the first ever Chinese private island leasehold going up for auction in the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang almost 20 years ago.
Painter Zhu Renmin became China’s first private island owner when he chose to purchase a 40-year-long leasehold for an island close to the city of Zhoushan back in 1996. The leasehold was no plain sailing for the painter however, thanks to a series of disputes regarding the development of the island.
Zhang Yechun, professor of the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology told Private Island News that the sheer quantity of laws and regulations form a constant headache to would-be island owners in mainland China. According to Professor Zhang, developers must apply to multiple overlapping departments, creating a bureaucratic deadlock for island developers.
Perhaps it’s little wonder that despite having approximately 9,000 uninhabited islands on their doorstep, Chinese investors are looking overseas to develop their own dream islands.
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