Hainan (海南) is a province of the People's Republic of China, located at the southern end of the country. It consists of several islands, the largest of which is also called Hainan Island (Hainan Dao). And when speaking of "Hainan" in Chinese, it is usually the main Hainan Island that is referred to. To emphasize that the entire province is meant, one says Hainan Sheng ("Hainan Province"). Its capital city is Haikou.
Hainan was one of the last areas of China controlled by the Chiang Kai-Shek's KMT. From March to May 1950, the Landing Operation on Hainan Island (海南島登陸戰役) captured the island for the Chinese communists.
During the mid-1980s (01.1984-03.1985), a 14-month episode of marketing zeal by Hainan Special District Administrator Lei Yu* (08.1982-03.1985) put Hainan’s pursuit of provincial status under a cloud. It involved the duty-free importation from Hongkong of 90,000 Japanese-made cars & trucks at a cost of C¥ 4.5 bn (US$ 1.5 bn), and exporting them - with the help of local naval units - to the mainland, making 150 % profits. By comparison, only 10,000 vehicles were imported into Hainan since 1950. In addition, it involved further consignments of 2.9 million TV sets, 252,000 videocassette recorders & 122,000 motorcycles. The money was taken from the 1983 central gov’t funds destined for the construction of the island’s transportation infrastructure (roads, railways, airports, harbours) over the next 10 years.
The central gov’t funds were deemed insufficient by the Hainan authorities for the construction of the island’s other infrastructures (water works, power stations, telecommunications, etc.) and had taken a very liberal interpretation of the economic and trade regulations for Hainan & 13 other coastal cities – the regulations did not mention on prohibiting the re-selling of second hand goods. Some of the proceeds, from unsold units, were later retrieved by the central gov’t to re-finance the special district.
[* Later, Vice Mayor of Shenzhen SEZ (05.1985–01.1988), Executive Vice Mayor of Guangzhou (01.1988–04.1992) & Vice Chairman of Guangxi AR (04.1992–01.1996).]
On May 1, 1950 (under the PRC), the Special Administrative Region became an Administrative Region Office (海南行政区公署), a branch of the Guangdong provincial government. On October 1, 1984, it became the Hainan Administrative Region (海南行政区), with a People's Government, and finally as province separate from Guangdong four years later.
In the official PRC territorial claim, Hainan Province includes not just one island, but also some 200 South China Sea Islands. The containment of the South China Sea Islands makes Hainan Province have a very large water body, but disproportionally small land area. James Shoal (曾母暗沙 Zengmu Ansha), which is presently marked by the PRC, signifies the country's southernmost border. But the Malaysians also claim it is on their continental shelf.