Tower cranes lined up one after another at a building site near the coast, with construction equipment shuttling back and forth and structures rising from the ground.
In Lingshui, Hainan province, workers have been in a race against time to prepare a campus－part of a pilot area for a new model of international education－for the enrollment of the first group of students in September.
So far 16 prestigious universities from China and overseas, including Coventry University from the United Kingdom and the University of Alberta in Canada, have decided to host education programs at the campus, which is one of 11 key zones for the development of the Hainan Free Trade Port.
"We are looking to enable Chinese children to enjoy top-notch international education resources here, without having to travel abroad," said Luo Qing, head of the department for collaboration with colleges at a government bureau administering the area.
The development of the project was part of a host of measures announced by President Xi Jinping at a grand gathering in Haikou, the provincial capital, on April 13, 2018, to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the province and the Hainan Special Economic Zone.
Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, highlighted the importance of focusing on institutional innovation, offering the free trade port greater autonomy in reform and opening up key sectors such as healthcare, education, telecommunications, the internet, culture and aviation.
He also spelled out policies to encourage the province to bring in high-caliber education resources from overseas and host high-level cooperation programs with foreign academic institutions, which spawned the international education program in Lingshui.
"Xi's speech at the meeting has pointed the way for the development of Hainan, both in theoretical terms and in laying out the specific path it should follow," said Cui Fan, a professor of international economics and dean of the Hainan Research Institute at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.
The Hainan FTP has taken up a pioneering role for China to expand opening-up and served as a testing ground for deepening reform, Cui said.