China's southern Hainan province has opened an online supermarket providing idle land plots, a significant institutional innovation that aims to invigorate land resources and makes remote transactions and monitoring of land stakes possible for both developers and suppliers, according to local government authorities.
Contradictions between land resource supply and demand are becoming increasingly prominent, along with the development of the Hainan Free Trade Port, which is expected to become a focus showcasing China's economic reform and opening-up, said Wang Xuehao, an official with the Hainan provincial department of natural resources and planning.
Inefficient and untimely government coordination has led to such problems as investors with projects on hand waiting for land to settle their blueprints, while on the other hand, some land, officially approved by the government or deposited by enterprises yet not fully utilized, remaining "idle and basking in the sun", said Wang.
Officially launched on June 6, the "land supermarket" platform, backed by a replacement mechanism for idle lands, is expected to solve problems and satisfy investors who urgently need land to develop their projects in Hainan, said the official.
She explained that the "land supermarket" is a system that ensures full life cycle supervision of land resources via collecting stocked construction land with clear property rights, releasing open and transparent land information, effectively matching projects, offering convenient and efficient land use options, and implementing standardized and efficient service regulation.
The "supermarket" is embedded in the Haiyiban App, the Hainan provincial government service platform. It offers investors intuitive, transparent and comprehensive information presentations that showcase the distribution of land plots, plot planning indicators, panoramic images of plots, amenities in the area and locational advantages.
The land supermarket can also be reached by linking with sub-applications within the WeChat app.
Hainan has built a database for all the land that has been approved for allocation and those resources reserved by the government, and will introduce all of them to the "land supermarket", according to the local natural resources authority.
The first batch of "arrivals" at the online land supermarket includes 168 plots, covering about 7,000 mu (1,153 acres) in total area. New resources will be continuously supplemented to the online market. Video viewing will be provided in the near future to help investors better understand the "land commodities", said local officials.
So far, three deals have been completed through the "land supermarket". One of the customers is a local medical technology company, which obtained a piece of a 1.5-acre plot for a medical and health project in the Boao Lecheng International Medical Tourism Pilot Zone, after going over the whole process of online land selection, land viewing and land acquisition application.
"A large number of major projects will start construction one after another, as Hainan is building a free trade port with Chinese characteristics with high quality and high standards. The demand for land will be huge," said He Jifeng, deputy director of a special office for optimizing the Hainan business environment under the provincial government.
He said the online "land supermarket" system will serve as an important booster and accelerator for the development of the Hainan FTP, which is expected to become globally influential by the middle of the century.