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Last resort

— Global


The once-neglected southern isle of Hainan is China’s newest and biggest tourism hub, thanks to a €381bn revamp with new palatial hotels, airports, a highway and rail links. But could this be a front for covert military operations?

Delphine Lignières, Hainan, Haitang Bay, Mandarin Oriental, Sanya

On the newly built highway to Haitang Bay, on China’s southern island of Hainan, drivers are still getting used to the most basic rules of the road. Despite the large white arrows on the fresh asphalt, cars and tractors still often drive on the wrong side, making your scenic journey along the coast a fraught one.

Hainan is in the midst of a €381bn overhaul: Beijing’s attempt to turn a rural backwater into China’s Hawaii. Once completed, it will be the country’s largest special economic zone and China’s “International Tourism Destination”, as the…


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