On his fourth visit to the southern island province of Hainan since 2010, President Xi Jinping made an inspiring speech on opening-up earlier this week.
At the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) April 10, Xi spoke of "a new phase of opening up" for the shared prosperity of China and the world.
This year is the 30th anniversary of Hainan as a province and special economic zone. The island of more than 9 million people, once a backwater of fisherfolk and poor farmers, is now a vivid example of China's commitment to the future.
Being China's only province entirely within the tropics, at 35,400 square km Hainan is roughly the same size as Taiwan.
On his first visit to Hainan as president in April 2013, Xi recognized the island's promise as the country's largest special economic zone, the host of the BFA and a popular tourist destination.
By making full use of its geographic advantages, natural resources and special economic zone status, the island is now a vigorous center of tourism and green agriculture.
In the past five years, the island's GDP has increased by an annual average of 8.1 percent to 446 billion yuan (about $71 billion) in 2017.
Since the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) National Congress in 2012, the number of tourists visiting the island increased from about 33.2 million to 67 million last year. Urban residents have seen their incomes rise by 9.6 percent every year. For rural residents the increase is 11.7 percent annually.
Opening-up brings vigor
"Hainan has the advantage of being on the front line with ASEAN countries," Xi said. "It should be a pioneer in opening up."
Since the 18th CPC National Congress, Hainan has hosted a series of diplomatic, economic and cultural gatherings. Since 2010, Xi's participation in four BFA events have been the highlights.
These international events have greatly raised the island's profile and exposed the province to the very latest in business practices and pioneering services.
On the island, overseas investors are allowed to set up medical institutions. The threshold for imports of medical equipment and pharmaceuticals have been lowered, and foreign doctors are allowed to extend their practice.
In March, a new hospital opened in the Hainan Boao Lecheng International Medical Tourism Pilot Zone, expected to be one of the first hospitals in China to provide the nine-valent HPV vaccine.
Moreover, people from 26 countries can now visit the island's beaches visa-free via 57 international air routes. The international airports in Haikou and Sanya received over 40 million passengers last year.
The province has a five-year plan for participation in the Belt and Road Initiative and trade between Hainan and countries along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road increased by 14.8 percent last year.
Coming up roses
In his 2013 visit, Xi dropped in on a small village named Bohou and made a statement that later became a catch phrase -- "whether Xiaokang is realized or not, only the ordinary folks can tell."
"Xiaokang," a moderately prosperous society, is set to be achieved by 2020 and one key indicator is the elimination of absolute poverty.
Bohou village has changed a lot since Xi visited five years ago. Since the president's visit, about 20 cooperatives have started running 70 hectares of rose plantations, earning the area the nickname of "rose valley."
"Five years ago I earned about 1,800 yuan a month. Now I make more than 3,000," said Bohou villager Huang Qi'na. She also leases out her family land for about 10,000 yuan a year.
Thanks to advances in agriculture, for the first time the annual per capita income of rural residents in all counties of Hainan exceeded 10,000 yuan in 2017.
About 617,000 residents, including all villagers of 517 villages, have been lifted above the poverty line over the past five years.
For the "ordinary folk" of Bohou village, Xiaokang is now just around the corner.
(Xinhua News Agency April 12, 2018)