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China unveils plan to make Hainan a free trade hub like HK, Singapore as risks of US decoupling loom

China has unveiled a package of special policies for Hainan, including scrapping import duties, in an effort to turn the tropical island into the mainland’s answer to Hong Kong or Singapore and dampen the risk of decoupling with the United States.

Beijing on Monday outlined its plan to make the 35,000 sq km island a “free trade port” by lowering the income tax rate for selected individuals and companies to 15 per cent, and relaxing visa requirements for tourists and business travellers.

The island province of 9.5 million people will also enjoy freedoms in terms of trade, investment, capital flows and the movement of people and data by 2035, as it moves toward becoming a hub of “strong international influence” by the middle of the century.

The project to make Hainan, which covers an area 30 times that of Hong Kong, into a regional trade, shopping and shipping centre has been “planned, arranged and promoted by General Secretary Xi Jinping personally”, according to the government statement.

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