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China will lift part of its 'Great Firewall' to give foreigners access to Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter on a tropical island dubbed 'Hawaii of the East'

Tara Francis Chan
Mark Zuckerberg China

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  • China's Hainan island has released plans to give tourists access to Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter in parts of two cities.
  • A partial lifting of the county's "Great Firewall" is part of an attempt to make the southern island a free trade zone and tourist hub.
  • It's unclear whether locals would be able to access the otherwise-blocked sites.
  • The local government's plan is no longer available online.


China plans to lift part of its "Great Firewall" and give foreigners access to Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter on the holiday island of Hainan.

hainan map

Google Maps/Business Insider

China wants to transform the island, which is the size of Belgium and has been dubbed the "Hawaii of the East," into an international free trade zone and a sprawling hub for foreign investment, gambling, tourism, and luxury by 2020. But like on the mainland, the internet is severely restricted in Hainan with access to most major Western sites blocked.

That's set to change, with the island's provincial government releasing a plan on its website saying access to Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter will be granted to foreigners. Tourists would be able to access these platforms in certain areas within two cities, Haikou and Sanya.

However, it's unclear whether locals would be able to use the sites.

The plan also reportedly said the island will advertise its tourism services with 2,000 minutes of promotional videos on broadcasters like BBC and CNN.

The plan was taken down from the local government's site within a day.

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