Located on an island off Fujian’s coast and facing the Taiwan Strait to the east, Pingtan has a total population of 400,000 and covers a land area of 392.92sqkm and a sea area of 6,064sqkm. Its main island, with an area of 324.13sqkm, is Fujian’s largest and China’s fifth largest island. It has plenty of fine harbours and a long deep-water coastline; it is also rich in natural resources. The main island, with an area of 160sqkm for development, has great opportunity and potential for extensive development. Pingtan is the closest region on the Chinese Mainland to Taiwan Island and therefore enjoys unique and distinctive advantages in pioneering cross-strait exchange and cooperation.
In July 2009, the Fujian Provincial Committee, CPC, and the Fujian Provincial Government decided to establish Pingtan Comprehensive Pilot Zone according to “Opinions of the State Council on Supporting Fujian Province to Accelerate the Establishment of the Western Taiwan Strait Economic Zone” and granted the Zone the economic management authority at municipal and provincial level.
The evolutionary history of Pingtan Island is closely connected to the sea. Island subsistence, the maritime ‘Silk Road’ and coastal defence culture has long-lasting impacts on folk traditions and customs for thousands of years. The area has great potential for maritime industries.
With the development of tourism, ecologically sound fisheries, new energies (renewable) and environmentally friendly industries, the island economy is becoming an important and more significant aspect of the social economy. Thanks to the unique location, resources, and environment, ISD is becoming a driving force of the Blue economy.
To take advantage of the zone’s favourable location as a core area of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, a cooperation agreement has been signed and now establishes a maritime industry-university- research base in Pingtan. This cooperation will help to advance Pingtan’s economy and enhance its global influence.
In order to capitalise and perpetuate the efforts being made, both in terms of ocean governance and maritime education, the Pingtan International Forum on Island Conservation and Development this year hosted an international audience to network and discuss the common issues and solutions. As such, the forum was devised to act as a platform for Chinese and participants worldwide to discuss the issues relevant for Island Sustainable Development, ISD.
The organisers of the June 25th and 26th Pingtan International Forum on Island Conservation and Development were the Pacific Society of China; The China Association of Oceanic Engineering; The Island Research Center, (SOA); The Pingtan Comprehensive Pilot Zone’s Administrative Committee; and the Fujian Provincial Department of Ocean and Fisheries.
The hosts of the forum include the Island Research Center, (SOA); The APEC Marine Sustainable Development Centre; The Publicity and Education Centre, (SOA); and the Environmental and Ecological Professional Committee, (CAOE).
The successful experience in sustainable tourism development and environment protection in some islands, typically characterised by abundant natural scenic resources, is significant for governments and managers from other islands. Due to the growing impacts of global climate change and human activities, islands’ environments are getting more vulnerable and sensitive. So the question arises, ‘How to balance ecological integrity of island with economic development is becoming one of the most pressing issues in the 21st Century’. The answers can be found is devising appropriate governance and sustainability strategies for the future development of islands. Consequently, the agenda of the Pingtan International Forum on Island Conservation and Development, 2016, was set to address the following:
- Island Sustainable Development
- Island Ecological Protection and Utilisation
- Island Tourism Development and Management
Global shifts and the international contexts of change occur at a range of intensities across local, regional and global spatial scales and levels of impacts. They affect small islands physically, environmentally, economically and socio-culturally, and in their internal and external roles and responsibilities. Since the UN Summit in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, the concept of sustainable development has been considered as a key global trend of environmental policy and socio-economic development.
An invitation was extended via the Chinese Embassy in Malta on behalf of the Island Research Center, (SOA) to the Maltese Government’s Ministry for Competitiveness, and Digital, Maritime and Services Economy (MCDMS). The Malta Marittima Agency accepted on behalf of MCDMS and participated within the Forum.
For Malta, coastal and maritime industry predominates in the economy, and in addition, the inter-coastal zone is a particularly important part of the Island’s socio- cultural and environmental heritage. Integrated Coastal Zone Management, ICZM, and more recently Maritime Spatial Planning, MSP, in Malta, are facilitating a strategic type of management in which socio-economic and environmental parameters may be monitored and maintained at sustainable levels over time and concurrently with competitive aspects of industry.
Through European initiatives such as the Marine Knowledge Agenda, the best available knowledge will ensure that such processes facilitate an adaptive approach to the spatio-temporal management of resources (Industry, Natural, and Cultural), based on sustainable development principles and a defined strategy for Malta.
According to Malta Marittima Agency’s remit, a policy research analyst delivered a presentation highlighting Malta’s efforts which are being made in Island Sustainable Development. The following matters were addressed in a fifteen minute delivery:
- Island Economic Development Strategies
- Carrying Capacity of Island Environmental
- New Energy Development for Islands
- Disaster Prevention and Control in islands
- Management and development experience in Small Island Developing States
Many small island developing states (SIDS) face special disadvantages associated with small size, insularity, remoteness and proneness to natural disasters. These factors render the economies of these states very vulnerable to forces outside their control – a condition which sometimes threatens their economic viability. The GDP or GNP per capita of these states often conceals this reality. Coupled with this, island states, which include Malta and its smaller sister island known as Gozo, can experience the phenomenon known ‘Double Insularity’.
Malta has a very strong background and experience in understanding the challenges involced with managing sustainable economic development. Even as far back as 1988 a wide array of such disadvantages were recognized, as evidenced by a comprehensive document prepared by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD, in preparation for a meeting of a group of experts on Island Developing Countries, held in Malta in May 1988. This had led to a UN resolution recognizing that in addition to the general problems faced by developing countries, island developing countries suffer additional handicaps arising from the interplay of such factors as smallness, remoteness, geographical dispersion, vulnerability to natural disasters and a highly limited internal market.
Development and implementation of frameworks that promote sustainable development require a good understanding of the conditions of economic, social, ecological development, including the related synergies. European policies, which include, the Green Infrastructures for terrestrial development and well as the Integrated Maritime Policy seek to coordinate sustainable development with a view to increased competitiveness and job creation within the maritime domain, and intercoastal zone, i.e., Blue Growth. Such policies include the processes involved in the implementation of Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
Pingtan, Fujian Province
Underwater Cultural Heritage
Pingtan has densely submerged reefs and typhoons are common, many merchant ships had sunk off the coast of Pingtan over time. In June of 2005, local fishermen accidentally caught some pieces of china when fishing around the Wan Reef. The location was then named as “Wanjiao No. 1 Site”, and submerged digging found over 15,000 pieces of cultural objects, offering valuable evidence for the export of blue & white porcelain in Ancient China and research on its history.
Onshore Cultural Heritage
Kequitou Culture witnesses the rise and decline of the Neolithic Age and presents the mysterious, precious ancient marine civilisation The Keqiutou Site (5590-7450 years ago) represents the early culture of the Neolithic Age in Fujian and Taiwan. In 1985, Fujian Archaeological Team cleaned up to 21 shell pits and 1 tomb, with over 200 pieces of remains, including earthenware, bone, artifacts, jade-ware, shell objects and pottery. The famous archaeologist An Zhimin named it “Kequitou Culture”, and it was listed as Province Culture Relic Protection Site in 1991.
Taiwan Strait Tunnel Project
In addition to the existing Pingtan Strait Bridge completed only in the last decade, the Taiwan Strait Tunnel Project is a proposed undersea tunnel to connect Pingtan in Mainland China to Hsinchu in Taiwan as part of the G3 Beijing–Taipei Expressway. First proposed in 1996, the project has since been subject to a number of academic discussions and feasibility studies, including by the China Railway Engineering Corporation. The route between Pingtan and Hsinchu was chosen because of its short distance (compared to other proposed routes) and its relative geological stability (in a region frequented by earthquakes). One expert from the Chinese Academy of Engineering suggested in 2005 that the Taiwan Strait Tunnel Project was one of five major undersea tunnel projects under consideration for the next twenty to thirty years.
Currently, the project is not considered viable due lack of interest from the Taiwanese, staggering costs and unsolved technical problems. At nearly 150 km, the proposed tunnel would be nearly three times longer than the Channel Tunnel. In addition, Taiwan is concerned about the tunnel's potential use by China in aggressive military actions. Nonetheless, in July 2013, the Chinese State Council approved plans for the project, although this "approval" is practically meaningless. Construction would still require approval by the Taiwanese government, which is highly unlikely. Therefore, it is likely that, if the tunnel would be constructed, this would happen only after a possible Chinese unification.
The Fujian FTZ, with three parts in leading three Fujian FTZs in innovation and business growth. Pingtan, Fuzhou and Xiamen. As a Comprehensive Pilot Zone in Fujian province, Pingtan now enjoys advantages of preferential policies, well-developed infrastructure, a geographic location close to Taiwan and industrial innovation. Pingtan, the second Taiwan-goods tariff-free market in the Chinese mainland following Dadeng Island of Xiamen, allows people to purchase at most 6,000 yan of goods originating from Taiwan, in the market, every day. Tariff-free goods include six categories: Oil and food, native livestock products, textile and garment, art-wares, light industrial products and pharmaceuticals.
The Pingtan Free Trade Zone (FTZ) has improved the region economically since its introduction, implementing 28 out of 35 new FTZ policies and measures in Fujian. Pingtan also copied 22 innovation ideas from other FTZs, ranging from investment management to trade, financing and customs supervision.
Pingtan’s preferential policies and incentives for investors have attracted a large number of enterprises. Statistics show that from January to September 2015, a total of 1,657 companies came to Pingtan, an increase of 2337 percent over previous year. The new companies include 1,420 domestic and 237 from overseas (including Taiwan), with combined registered capital of 69 billion yuan ($11 billion).
Cross-Straits e-commerce, financing service, tourism and cultural creativity have witnessed the fastest growth. Authorities also made great efforts in promotion at business fairs at home and abroad, signing 108 projects worth 205 billion yuan. The projects range from high-technology to modern service, tourism, ocean industries. and infrastructure. Pingtan is also building as a transportation hub and international tourist destination. It has handled 26 shipments of cargo via cross-Straits e-commerce, worth 10.4 million yuan.
South China is the important origin of tungsten ore, where separated wolframite or wolframite, sheeite deposit are the main tungsten deposit, while independent sheeite deposit is rare. However, the Pintan sheeite deposit found in Chengby County, Hunan Province, China, recently, which is of large scale. However, prior to upscaling to international supply and demand, Pingtan must maintain its original ecological environment.
Authorities in Pingtan Comprehensive Pilot Zone, Fujian province announced recently that Pingtan got approval from the Provincial Department of Land and Resources to set up a provincial geopark, this year. The decision was made on the basis of the county's beautiful geological landscape with mountains and sea and good preservation of geological relics and cultural heritage. This new geopark is an island park that features ocean and cultural landscapes. Local authorities said that the geopark will be a new name card of the island's tourism. It will help Pingtan reach its goal of becoming an international tourist destination and facilitate the development of its economy . A geopark is a unified area that advances the protection and use of geological heritage in a sustainable way and promotes the economic well-being of the people who live there. Officials said that Fujian now has two global geoparks, nine national ones and some provincial ones.
There is significant potential to develop ‘Eco-tourism’ and efforts are well underway in the form of the Pingtan Provincial Geopark. This will be narrow-shaped along local coastline and will cover a combined area of about 58 square kilometers and include 24 rare geological relics such as Double-Sail Rock, Tannan Bay beach and Haitan Deity. The relics can be divided into five categories featuring geological structure, paleontological species, landscape, waterscape and environment.
Planning and management of natural resources in coastal regions is highly complex because of the interconnectedness of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine realms; diverse human uses; and climate change. Integrated land-sea planning (ILSP) (also ridge-to-reef planning) systems are developed in China. Land-based stressors studies include: estimate sediment and nutrient loads into the near-shore marine environment; carrying out of a scenario-based cumulative effects assessment for terrestrial, freshwater, and marine biodiversity; and guidance of site-based decision making for conservation and erosion mitigation.