Chinese official wants to turn Woody Island into offshore banking hub

(From Washington Post)

A Chinese official has a novel plan for Woody Island, a tiny, tropical and very much contested speck in the South China Sea.

PLA soldiers patrol Woody Island

PLA soldiers patrol Woody Island

Han Fangming, a businessman and political adviser, said this week that the government ought to turn the less-than-one-square-mile outpost into China’s version of the British Virgin Islands.

His pitch is to use the place as a hub for company registration. Chinese companies like Alibaba and Baidu are doing business in the Cayman Islands, he said in a news release, so why not bring that money home?

offshoreWell, why not indeed.

But what seems like a modest proposal ahead of China’s annual legislative meetings is actually much bolder — and more interesting — than it seems.

Though Han’s vision of Bermuda-on-the-Pacific may never come to pass, the thinking behind it is important.

In a statement published by his think tank, Han laid out the benefits of having an offshore haven in the middle of a rapidly militarizing stretch of sea. “Promoting offshore services there will be a boon to both local economic development and the safeguarding of national interests,” he said. Read more

Categories: Asia Unhedged, China

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