By Andy Mok, a non-resident fellow with Center for China and Globalization (CCG)
Like Perry Peirui Mao, Miss China, the hundreds of other contestants are vying for the 2018 Miss World title on December 8. Sanya, the venue for this year’s pageant, is blessed with a captivating abundance of physical beauty.
To be beautiful is to hold a certain kind of power because it delivers pleasure and satisfaction. It also attracts and even compels as well as provides those experiencing it with emotional well-being. But the impact of beauty is even more profound. According to Plato, science, the arts and religion comprise the three fields of human interest and truth, beauty and goodness represent their corresponding ideals.
The power of beauty is also evidenced by decades of psychological research that demonstrate a halo effect in that those that are beautiful are automatically assumed to be smart, ambitious and interesting.
Some contestants of the 68th Miss World Final in Sanya, China, November 14, 2018 /VCG Photo
But to have a positive impact on the world, being beautiful isn’t enough for either people or cities. Perhaps the more important and interesting question is – what does one do with that beauty?
As the only beachfront tropical city in China, Sanya has a 258-km-long coastline with almost twenty separate bays and beaches. Because of this natural beauty, it has long been called the “Hawaii of China.”
Sanya has pursued a number of smart policies and initiatives to complement its physical beauty. These initiatives include a world-class duty-free shopping mall and recent increase to 30,000 RMB (4,300 U.S. dollars) per year purchase allowance, and systematic approaches to local transportation to provide a higher quality experience for visitors.
Some contestants of the 68th Miss World Final in Sanya, China, November 14, 2018. /VCG Photo
For example, all taxis in Sanya are equipped with both video cameras and microphones providing real-time data to local authorities to provide a sense of safety for both passengers and drivers. Also, these hardware solutions are complemented by customer service training for the city’s cab drivers.
But perhaps most significantly, Hainan Province has won the support of the central government to become a free trade zone, which would be the biggest in China. Under this policy, Hainan, including Sanya, would offer foreign businesses much greater freedom than in other parts of China. It would also ease restrictions on foreign investment on the island in the sectors of agriculture to medical services.
As the United States launches a full spectrum response to forcefully counter China, the likelihood of a decoupling of the world’s two biggest economies appears more and more likely. Some already are calling it a new iron curtain. In this scenario, China will need to accelerate its realization of technological self-sufficiency. A key way to accomplish this is to attract the brainiest innovators from all over the world by offering a beautiful and inspiring environment.
Sanya’s physical appeal combined with a continuation of intelligent policies that already attract numerous Russians and other nationalities may usher in a future for this city where it is recognized not just for its beauty but also its brains.