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Asia Minute: “China’s Hawai‘i” Wants More Residents

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A little more than an hour’s flight from Hong Kong is a tropical island that likes to market itself as “China’s Hawai‘i.” But unlike Hawai‘i, this location is looking for a population explosion. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

China’s Hainan Island wants to add another 1-million new residents over the next eight years. That would boost the island’s population by more than ten-percent.

It’s all about economic development, and speeding up that process.

Chinese President Xi Jinping recently chose Hainan to become the country’s largest free-trade zone. That opens up opportunities for investment and development — but the local workforce apparently needs a boost in numbers.

This week, the provincial government laid out some details about how it plans to attract all those new residents.

Subsidized housing is a draw, and work visas will be easier to obtain. But there are some restrictions, the island is looking for what officials consider “qualified residents.”

Education is a critical aspect — and so is age.

A monthly subsidy for housing is available for those under forty with university degrees — the subsidy is bigger for those with master’s degrees.

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The government says it wants to attract foreigners as part of its population growth, but here the standards are a little less clear — beyond a reference to “qualified technicians” and other skilled workers.

The plan is on a fast track with a goal of attracting 200,000 new residents within the next two years.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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