Hainan: vom fehlgeschlagenen Kapitalismusvorzeigeprojekt zum Hawai-Ersatz: China's leaders once tapped Hainan, this small sunny island off the southern coast of China, to be one of five experimental laboratories for capitalism. Hainan was supposed to compete to become a new Hong Kong, even a future Singapore. But more than a decade later, even as China's hot economy bubbles over with success in places like Shanghai and Shenzhen, Hainan is, well, still an experiment, like a lone laggard. It seems as though this place, despite its postcard-perfect views and year-round summer sheen, might be called one of China's earliest glitches on the road to capitalism, an isolated patch of somewhat undeveloped land that had once captured leadership attention, wads of cash and many talented Chinese wanting to strike it rich. ... But now Hainan is hoping to be reborn as a different sort of place; optimists here like to call it the next Hawaii. Rather than buck the speculators' first instincts, officials here are trying to work with them. ... This tropical island in the South China Sea, just 13 miles off the China coast, is now busily erecting resort towns, golf courses, some multistory condos and low-rise villas. Not to mention a handful of mega-shopping malls. Sanya, a former fishing village on the island's most scenic shores, has been transformed into a bustling tourist haven. Five-star hotels now cling to the beaches of this southern resort town, which each year plays host to the Miss World pageant. And a spectacular international conference center in a resort town called Bo'ao is being promoted as China's answer to Davos, Switzerland, where each January the annual World Economic Forum of business leaders, government officials, activists and intellectuals is held. "We want Hainan to be a vacation spot for China and the world," declares Zhu Huayou, a government official in Hainan's Foreign Affairs Office. "Bali has done something that fits the needs of its customers. We want to do something similar here." Few visitors will mistake Hainan for Bali, with its rich and traditional customs as a backdrop to hundreds of resorts catering to visitors from all over the world. But millions of tourists, mostly from China and Russia, are now beginning to frequent this relatively inexpensive and less-developed island of magnificent beaches and lush mountain landscapes.
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