Fancy living out a Robinson Crusoe fantasy on a desert island in China? Now you can, as long as your intentions are good. Olivia Palamountain reports

China is home to hundreds of uninhabited islands – who knew? Most of these islands are found in Liaoning province, a region in the north-east of the country, situated some 700km east of Beijing.

There are a total of 633 islands in the province, found off the coast in the Yellow Sea or scattered along the Yalu River that separates the province from neighbouring North Korea. A whopping 589 islands lie untouched, while 44 are inhabited, all owned by the Chinese government.

The move to rent out the islands comes after pressure on ocean resources in the region have increased, leading to ineffective and extensive use, says state-run news agency Xinhua.

The islands are now being leased under nine categories, including agriculture, urban development, fishing, tourism and renewable energy. Potential renters must select the purpose of their stay on the islands and bear the following in mind:

  • Detailed plans of intention must be presented to the Chinese government
  • Projects must not incur any land reclamation
  • Measures to protect the environment must be in place

Island leases start at a humble US$535 per year per 2.5 acres, rising to US$3.6 million per 2.57 acres per year, Xinhua reported.

There are six “socioeconomic development” tiers that determine the rent of each island, with higher ranks being more expensive.

Additional factors, such as the intentions of the prospective renter, how the land will be developed – and for what purposes – are also taken into account. These regulations are in place to prevent environmental damage and could take the price up to 20 times higher, according to Xinhua.

Yu Xingguang, a member of China’s Third Institute of Oceanography, said that tourism and entertainment are the two main categories of use for rented out islands, according to the state-run Global Times. Reportedly, the complex pricing scheme and tiers was framed with environmental protection in mind.

“The values of islands are carefully calculated after field research, and ecological factors, such as rare species, fresh water, beaches and other resources also have to be taken into account in the overall plan,” said Yu in the Global Times report.

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