Multiple key projects in Hainan boost high-quality development of a modern Free Trade Port
Hainan Free Trade Port on massive infrastructure facelift
Published: Jul 27, 2023 07:01 PM
Two Hualong One nuclear power units under construction at the Changjiang Nuclear Power Plant in South China's Hainan Province Photo: Courtesy of China National Nuclear Corporation

Two Hualong One nuclear power units under construction at the Changjiang Nuclear Power Plant in South China's Hainan Province Photo: Courtesy of China National Nuclear Corporation

A crane was lifting the core module of Linglong One reactor, the world's first commercial small modular reactor (SMR), from a ship as it arrived in Changjiang, South China's Hainan on Thursday from Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning Province. The SMR, homegrown by China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), will be installed at the Hainan Changjiang Nuclear Power Plant.

About 240 kilometers to Changjiang's West, construction for China's first commercial space launch site is underway in Wenchang, which is already known for the spacecraft launch base. 

The two scenes across the island province, though seemingly unrelated on the surface, are part of the efforts to build Hainan into a world-class free trade port (FTP). 

In April 2018, Hainan drew the global spotlight after China announced the planned transformation of the island into a pilot free trade zone and gradually promoting the establishment of a FTP there with Chinese characteristics. 

Five years on, after implementation of over 180 supportive policies, Hainan continues to improve its comprehensive development, aiming to facilitate the independent customs operations on the island at the end of 2025. During the five years, Hainan's annual GDP growth averaged at 5.3 percent.

Green growth 

Currently, more work is underway to boost the island's green development, reflected in the construction of the Hainan Changjiang Nuclear Power Plant and the new commercial spacecraft launch site, which symbolizes high-tech development. 

The planned construction time of the Linglong One nuclear plant is 58 months which has now been reduced to 53 months, as some of the work has been completed in advance, Chen Jianxin, chief engineer of the Hainan Nuclear Power Co, the operator of the Changjiang Nuclear Power Plant, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

"After the core module is placed in the container of the Linglong One nuclear plant in early August, relevant assembling work will start. The Linglong One is expected to enter operation by 2025, which could offer more clean energy for the development of Hainan FTP," said Chen.

"It was a great honor for me to participate in the shipment of the equipment, and it was a relief when all the shipment work was successfully completed," Liu Qiang, a worker from China COSCO Shipping Co, the courier of the core module from Dalian to Changjiang told the Global Times.

The core module of the Linglong One reactor consists of two key components: the pressure vessel and the steam generator. They were independently designed by CNNC's Nuclear Power Institute and manufactured by China First Heavy Industries.

According to the introduction of International Atomic Energy Association, small modular reactor (SMR) is an advanced nuclear reactor that has a power capacity of up to 300,000 kilowatts per unit, accounting for one-third of the generating capacity of a traditional nuclear power reactor.

Linglong One power plant has a power generation capacity of 125,000 kilowatts and an annual power generation of 1 billion kilowatt-hours, enough to meet the needs of 526,000 households. It will reduce 880,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year, according to CNNC.

An aerial view of a dock in Chengmai, South China's Hainan Province Photo: Courtesy of CNOOC Hainan Dock Ltd

An aerial view of a dock in Chengmai, South China's Hainan Province Photo: Courtesy of CNOOC Hainan Dock Ltd

Shooting for sky 

As the only costal spacecraft launch site in China, Wenchang International Aerospace City has already completed multiple vital aerospace launch missions, including the Chinese space station Tiangong and the lunar probe Chang'e. 

Benefiting from Wenchang's natural geographic advantages such as lower latitude, less transport restrictions and high security for landing sites, the city is constructing the nation's first commercial spacecraft launch site now.

"Infrastructure construction of the launch site will be completed by the end of this year. The first commercial launch will likely commence in the first half of 2024," Dong Chenghua, a representative from the administration bureau of the Wenchang International Aerospace City told the Global Times. Dong noted that by the 2025, the commercial launch site will realize high-frequency launch operations, such as one launch every month.  

Data from Chinese market analysis firm iiMedia showed that during 2015 to 2021, the scale of China's commercial spacecraft launch industry realized an average annual growth rate of 22.3 percent, and may reach 2.3 trillion yuan in market size by 2024.

Another representative from the administration bureau told the Global Times that commercial spacecraft launches are in high demand among domestic private enterprises, mostly focused on communication, remote control and navigation.

Rising attractiveness

As construction work for Hainan FTP accelerates and more supportive policies are now in place, Hainan's economy has seen steady expansion, and the island is increasingly attractive to domestic and overseas companies.

The Hainan Provincial Bureau of Statistics on July 19 revealed the island's GDP in the first half of 2023 stood at 345.88 billion yuan and a growth rate of 8.6 percent year-on-year, reflecting strong growing momentum.

Yang Lei, director of the statistics bureau, said that a series of supportive policies targeting construction of Hainan FTP performed well. From January to June, total value of Hainan's imports and exports hit 120.29 billion yuan, increasing 26.4 percent year-on-year. 

Hainan has attracted many enterprises and research institutes. As an experimental site for the FTP supportive policies, Hainan Resort Software Community (RSC) located in the western part of the island, has attracted as many as 14,000 enterprises, including Tencent, Baidu, Bytedance and Meituan.

The research center of the RCS also attracted over 300 research fellows from Oxford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tsinghua University, representative of the RCS told the Global Times.

In the first five months of 2023, foreign direct investment to Hainan reached 12.48 billion yuan, increased 35.4 percent year-on-year.