Hainan Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai is a new way to improve communication between businesses based in Shanghai and Hainan Province, in tune with the various economic needs of the two places.
The HCCS, launched on Tuesday, will also be a channel for exchange and cooperation between Hainan's many entrepreneurs in the Yangtze River Delta region.
The two places are economically complementary in a number of ways, but also have much to learn from each other.
In his address to the launch ceremony, Wang Yihai, first president of the HCCS, said that the name Hainan is more often evocative of palm trees, sandy beaches and sunshine. “But it is also often denigrated as a cultural desert, which is a simple lack of understanding,” he said.
History reveals close connections between Hainan and Shanghai.
Towards the end of Song Dynasty (960-1279), Huang Daopo, a native of Songjiang in today’s Shanghai, travelled to Hainan Island, where she studied the textiles of the Li ethnic minority. When she returned to Songjiang, the looms and knowledge she brought with her were instrumental in her hometown’s ascent as a textile center.
In more recent times, in January 1886, Charlie Soong’s steamship crawled up the Huangpu River and tied up at a pier on the Bund. Soong, a native of Wenchang in Hainan, later father of the celebrated Soong sisters, was returning to China after years of wandering in America. A successful businessman in Shanghai, Soong became actively involved in Sun Yat-sen’s revolutionary cause that culminated in the 1911 Revolution that overthrew the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
These pioneering technical, cultural, and commercial exchanges between Hainan and Shanghai have developed into the solid ties between the two places we see today, when the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up and the 30th anniversary of the founding of Hainan Province is marked.
Last month, a detailed plan to establish Hainan Province as the country's largest free trade zone was released, identifying industries that will have foreign investment restrictions reduced or abolished. The country's 11 FTZs tend to be focused more on manufacturing and intermediary trade, but Hainan will be more of a prototype in service trade by 2020, providing an excellent legal environment, thorough financial services, regulations and a pleasant environment.
Wang believes the “plan will have a significant impact on the future of Hainan, and through it, Hainan entrepreneurs based in Shanghai are bound to find a plethora of new opportunities.”
At this historical juncture, Wang posed the question of how to make the best of these opportunities and fully exploit the policy dividends, suggesting that the HCCS can play a major role in helping businesses take advantage of all that is on offer.