Pingtan Island, a before and after story in the making
One of the most striking investment opportunities at this year CIFIT for foreign capital is Pingtan island development. Located at the heart of Haixi region, the most dynamic region of developments which involve Taiwan, Fujian and mainland, Pingtan Island requires a huge pool of skill, technology and capital to develop. It is a dynamo economy in the making, reached by huge catchment of population with above average income.
Fujian and Taiwan may be separated by a body of water, but culturally and demographically they share a lot in common. More than 80% of Taiwanese, for example, can trace some form of ancestry in Fujian while over 100,000 Taiwanese businesspeople currently have permanent residency in Fujian. With such strong bonds, the Fujian coastline has been an attractive business environment for both parties since the opening up policies of the 1980's.
With relations between the mainland and Taiwan improving continuously, there has been increasing emphasis on creating physical spaces where cross-straits business can develop. Pingtan (平潭岛) island, one of China's largest islands, has been selected as the major focal point for the coming growth.
The geographic location of Pingtan
China's incredible economic development in the last few decades has lead to some astonishing success in 'government level' city projects. Shanghai's Pudong district and Hong Kong's neighbour city of Shenzhen are two of the more successful of these ventures – both, in the space of a few decades, have become centres of economic and urban success. Now it is Pingtan's turn.
Given that Pingtan is two and a half times the size of Xiamen, it begs the question why the latter was the main beneficiary of development since the opening up policies of the 1980's. The main reason was infrastructural – Pingtan has never had a bridge to the mainland and instead relied on ferry services to keep connected.
Pingtan cross-Strait Bridge
Pingtan cross-straits bridge is one of the largest infrastructure projects in China – involving a total investment of 1.4 Billion RMB (over $US200 million). After completion, which is slated for late November 2010, the bridge will reach 4,976 meters (10 times longer than New York’s Brooklyn harbour bridge) across the Haitan strait and will connect the island with Fuqing district on the mainland. After completion, transit time to Fuzhou's Changle airport will be approximately 40 minutes.
In juxtaposition to its industrial future, Pingtan is also being developed as a tourism location. The island has 6 main tourist districts, Fujian provinces largest lake and two fully development beach resort areas. With 70 kilometers of beach line, much of which is golden sand, and a sub-tropical climate with off-shore winds ideal for wind surfing and water sports, Pingtan is also ideal location to get away from the rigours of industrial China. In 2001, the island was proposed as a world heritage site in the Mixed category of Cultural & Natural. Having been a military center for many years the island's social life developed well after catering for the young soldiers once based on the island. Pingtang’s night life is well known in the area as a top party location.
Pingtan has an interesting history as it was an important part of early Southern China's human history. Keqiutou (壳丘头) was the site of a neolithic Chinese culture. Evacuations during the 1980's found numerous items such as tools, jades, ceramics, and spinning wheels dating back to the Neolithic ear. Radio-carbon put the settlement at close to 3000 BC. More can be learned about this site at the Fujian Provincial Museum.
The groups responsible for Pingtan new development have begun to promote local and foreign investment into the island. Foreign enterprises will be provided with full support in obtaining business licences and in the general process of setting up. Taiwanese investors will enjoy many preferential policies. For reference, water currently costs 3.00 – 4.00 RMB ($US0.50 – 0.60) per tonne depending on industry while electricity is between 0.5504 to 0.7427 RMB per kilowatt hour.
Many long term China expats talk about seeing cities like Pudong, Shenzhen and Xiamen develop rapidly before their eyes – turning from farmlands into concrete & steel skylines in the space of time it takes for a HBO series takes to run its course. Now is a good opportunity to see the farmlands of Pingtan before they transforms into something special.
Pingtan, a before and after story in the making. Don't be surprised if you start hearing the name Pingtan (平潭岛) more frequently in the coming years