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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

Top of the shops

Until recently, Chinese shoppers faced a restricted list of products when shopping at the popular CDF duty-free store in Sanya: they could only buy locally made items, and none of the international brands on offer. Not that Made in Hainan products are anything to snigger at – everyone needs jackfruit curd or mango gummies once in a while. But now there has been a rule change that allows them to buy from the likes of Armani and Tiffany & Co. Apparently, the biggest sellers are Estée Lauder and Lancôme facial moisturisers, and Dior and Chanel perfumes.

Made in Hainan

Products from the island

  1. Ground coconut-milk coffee powder
  2. Fragrant and spicy yellow chilli sauce
  3. Betel nuts with a “haunting, elusive odour”
  4. Instant coconut powder
  5. Organic moringa-tree tea
  6. Honey and mango gummies
  7. Pearl eye cream
  8. Eye Gold eye-protection essence
  9. Seawater pearls from the state-controlled Museum of Pearls in Sanya

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