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BEIJING, April 13 (Reuters) - China will set up an international free trade zone and port on the southern island of Hainan, state radio said on Friday, quoting President Xi Jinping, amid speculation it is trying to set up a rival to the trading and financial hub of Hong Kong.
Xi pledged earlier this week to further open China’s economy and cut tariffs this year in a speech in Hainan seen as an attempt to defuse an escalating trade dispute with the United States.
There has been speculation that China intends to establish Hainan as a rival to free-wheeling Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Xi also said that China supported Hainan setting up international energy and shipping-related commodity exchanges, it added.
Hainan authorities in late March tightened property measures, banning home-owners from reselling within five years of purchase. (Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk Editing by Nick Macfie)