Island combines tropical appeal with industrial haven |
Home   >   Media Center   >   Top News and Events

Island combines tropical appeal with industrial haven

By ZHAO XINYING,CHEN BOWEN and LIU YUAN in Haikou China Daily Updated: 2023-07-13
A view of Sanya Bay in Hainan province. [Photo provided to]

High-level talent, enterprises attracted by facilities, preferential policies and easy lifestyle

Zhao Jian had lived and worked in Beijing and Shanghai for more than 20 years, when he decided to open his new artificial intelligence company in an industrial park in Haikou, the capital of Hainan province.

In his 40s, Zhao is one of the "high-level" talents the province is attracting to its key industrial parks through an abundance of facilities, infrastructure and services as well as preferential policies. The beautiful natural environment and easier tropical lifestyle are also major attractions for relocating to the island province in South China.

Zhao said that people who are recognized as high-level talent in Haikou can receive a monthly subsidy of 3,000 yuan ($419) to rent an apartment in the city.

"Here in Haikou, you can rent an apartment for only 3,000 yuan, but the living experience is equivalent to that costing at least 10,000 yuan in Beijing," he said.

Zhao opened his company in the Fullsing Internet Industrial Park, one of the 13 key industrial parks of the Hainan free trade port, in 2020.

Since 2018, the 30th anniversary of the founding of the province and the Hainan Special Economic Zone, over 500,000 skilled individuals have been drawn to work on the island, official statistics show. Attracting large numbers of new talent and clients has in turn boosted the construction and development of the Hainan Free Trade Port.

In Hainan, high-level talent refers to people working in sectors that are key to the province, such as tropical agriculture and tourism, who have won prizes in their profession or meet specified thresholds for salaries.

They are divided into different groups on the basis of their contributions to the province and can enjoy a range of preferential policies in terms of tax refunds, housing and their children's education.

After the decision was made in 2018 to build the province into a free trade port, Hainan's key industrial parks have piloted a series of reforms. These include innovations in the work system, streamlining the application and approval procedures for businesses, and implementing preferential policies for talented people and some enterprises.

"The free flow of domestic and international talent and capital, the great amount of personal income tax refunds, and the streamlined procedures to register and establish an enterprise — all these are big attractions to entrepreneurs like me," said Zhao.

His company works with other enterprises in Southeast Asia and more than half of his employees hold a master's degree or higher qualification.

Zhao said Fullsing Internet Industrial Park tries its best to help enterprises like his resolve their problems, so that entrepreneurs can run their businesses smoothly.

"Here in the industrial park, it only takes one day to register an enterprise and finish all the procedures, while in other cities, it usually takes at least a week," he said.

Comfortable life

Apart from the low cost of living and preferential policies, the reasonable work-life balance is another reason why Zhao chose to relocate to the island.

"I can breathe the clean air all year round, and as our industrial park is located by the seaside, I can enjoy fabulous sea views by walking only 20 meters. It means that I can easily get a break from my tense job," said Zhao.

Efforts to build a comfortable life for entrepreneurs and workers are also happening at other key industrial parks in Hainan.

At the Hainan Free Trade Port Resort Software Community located in northwestern Chengmai county, the concept of a "tiny city "is being developed. Residents live and work at the industrial park where their entertainment needs and children's education are also met. All the facilities are within a 15-minute walk of each other.

The community has received more than 10 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) from enterprises, different levels of government and private investors to build the comprehensive space that weaves together the needs of the natural environment, production and people's lives.

"It's really cool to see that our office is located in a park with beautiful scenery, isn't it?" said Cai Yao, a worker at an IT company in the industrial park, as he points to lush vegetation and a lake outside an office window.

"Is it like working in a tropical rainforest?" he wondered.

Having worked in the company's headquarters in Beijing for two years, Cai moved to Hainan in 2018 and is now the head of the research and development team there.

The beautiful scenery, the low cost of living, and the convenient facilities enticed the 32-year-old to buy an apartment in the industrial park.

After work, he often joins seminars and activities run by hobby clubs located in the industrial park. The activities include chess, basketball, badminton and camping.

Cai jokes that working in the convenient community and enjoying a relaxed lifestyle have helped keep his hair thick, "unlike most software professionals in big cities who suffer severe hair loss because of the great working pressure and long working hours".

With its rapid construction and development, the industrial park is attracting more young talents like Cai and more enterprises.

Revenue from the industrial park rose by more than 50 billion yuan between 2016 and 2020, five folds the amount between 2011 and 2015, official statistics show.

By the end of last year, more than 13,500 enterprises had registered in the industrial park, representing year-on-year growth of 14 percent.

Cai's colleague Li Hao, who originally hails from North China's Hebei province, is also pleased he made the move.

Having worked in his company's headquarters in Beijing for three years, Li relocated his family to Chengmai in 2020 and is now the general manager of the company's Hainan branch.

"Thanks to the policies of the free trade port regarding talent, I bought an apartment nearby at a very reasonable price, and my child has also been admitted to a good local school," he said.

"All my family members are very happy with their new, comfortable life in Hainan. And maybe I'm the happiest — not only because life here is relaxing, but more importantly, my career has developed here," Li added.

Integrated complex

A similar self-contained community has also been built at Yazhou Bay Science and Technology City, another key industrial park of the free trade port. Its focuses are research on plant breeding, deep-sea technology and life sciences.

Located in the western section of Sanya, Yazhou Bay is developing an integrated complex that combines teaching, scientific research, daily life and cultural activities. Its aims are to enhance innovation capabilities, promote industrial development, attract and retain young talented people, and optimize the business environment, said Niu Jingjing, an official of the Management Bureau of Yazhou Bay.

Ye Zhi, an associate professor at the Ocean University of China's Sanya Marine Research Institute, said Yazhou Bay has great facilities, and also provides researchers with enough funding to purchase equipment they need for experiments.

"These create conditions for us to have more intellectual exchanges and make innovation possible," he said.

Du Mei, a researcher at Yazhou Bay Seed Laboratory, said people-to-people exchanges at the park are also helping to build and share knowledge.

"Various academic conferences are frequently held here, allowing us to communicate with many senior scientists in the industry," Du said. "It is especially important for us young professionals to gain the experience and knowledge of our peers."

Since its launch in 2019, Yazhou Bay has attracted 19 research institutes, 16 public technology service platforms and almost 10,000 enterprises. As of February, the industrial park had more than 1,100 high-level talents and had provided almost 25,000 jobs.

"These scientific research benefits have played an incredible role in the development of Sanya City, including urban construction, and the building of the city's scientific capabilities," Niu said.

Opening-up education

To meet the free trade port's demand for domestic and overseas talent, and also to cater to demand for high-quality education, the Hainan government collaborated with the Ministry of Education to build the Li'an International Education Innovation Pilot Zone in Lingshui Li autonomous county, in the island's southeast.

Since its establishment in 2020, the pilot zone has signed cooperation agreements with 10 domestic universities and 12 overseas higher education institutions. Students are being recruited through five cooperation programs with foreign education institutions and a cooperation program with the City University of Macau.

Wang Linping, deputy director of the zone's administration, said its goal is to enhance Hainan's education system and improve its quality.

"Specifically, we need to innovate our admission process and further develop our international characteristics to create a better study atmosphere," Wang said. "Through such efforts, we can expect a steady increase in the number of international students coming to study in Hainan."

The pilot zone now has nearly 500 teachers and students, with the number expected to reach 2,000 by the fall semester. It aims to have 10,000 teachers and students by 2025, and 30,000 by 2035, according to the pilot zone's administration.

Coventry College, Communication University of China, a joint education institute in Li'an, last year admitted 90 students to its intelligent science and technology undergraduate major. It is scheduled to enroll another 100 students in its undergraduate majors in intelligent science and technology, and visual communication design this year.

Queen Mary School Hainan, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, also a joint education institute in Li'an, has the capacity to enroll 1,200 students. It offers three undergraduate majors in information and computing science, digital media technology, and intelligent medical engineering.

For the fall semester, the college plans to enroll 150 students, including 90 in information and computing sciences and 60 in digital media technology.

These disciplines not only take into account the academic advantages of both sides, but also give full consideration to the free trade port's development needs, said Kang Xiao, director of the school's Party committee office.

"We have top-notch teaching staff from the UK in the fields of medicine and life sciences to cultivate the students' abilities to integrate and apply intelligent information and biomedical science," Kang said, adding this will help meet Hainan's needs in innovative development.

Medical zones

In addition to traditional tourism and tropical agriculture, high-end medical services are now becoming synonymous with Hainan, with more healthcare institutions setting up in Lecheng International Medical Tourism Pilot Zone in Boao, in eastern Hainan.

Established in 2013 with the approval of the State Council, the Chinese Cabinet, the pilot zone is the country's first and only special medical zone.

Related industries of international medical tourism, such as medical treatment, health management, care rehabilitation, medical cosmetology, and anti-aging procedures are being developed in the pilot zone. It has also become a primary channel for international pharmaceuticals and medical equipment to enter China, and provides world-class medical tourism services to domestic and international patients.

A total of 25 medical institutions — public, private and international — now operate in Lecheng, with another 24 under construction or in the pipeline.

Nineteen of the medical institutions use medical devices and drugs licensed abroad that are approved for use in the pilot zone but not yet in the rest of China. In total, more than 30,000 patients have benefited from the overseas pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

In the first five months of 2023, the number of visitors to Lecheng reached 100,000, a year-on-year growth of almost 60 percent. The combined number of patients allowed to use medical devices and drugs approved for use in the zone was almost 10,000 in the first half of the year, representing annual growth of more than 130 percent.

With five industrial platforms, Lecheng's management team has formed a clear vision for the next step in the development of its industrial chain, said Yan Lukai, publicity director of Lecheng's administration.

"By combining our industrial plan with the upgrading of our preferential policies, the concentration of medical resources, and the acceleration of introducing international innovative drugs and medical devices yet to be marketed in China, I think the zone has entered a new stage of high-quality development," he added.

To date, the zone has introduced more than 320 urgently needed medical devices and drugs, and established relations with 132 manufacturers of pharmaceutical devices and drugs in 17 countries.