The resort island of Hainan may become a key proving ground for China’s push to lead the world in electric-vehicle adoption.

China aims to phase out sales of fossil-fuel vehicles in the province, and to accelerate the use of new-energy and energy-saving cars on the island, Xinhua News Agency reported late Saturday, citing an official guideline on reforming the southern province. The guideline coincides with President Xi Jinping’s visit to the island, and initiatives include setting up a trial free-trade zone and building up Hainan’s tourism industry.

China will control the number of vehicles in Hainan in “a scientific way,” in a bid to make the island a place with a “green lifestyle,” according to Xinhua.

While the report didn’t give details or a timeline on the fossil fuel-vehicle ban, the initiative fits with Xi’s broader campaign to promote electric autos. His administration is implementing new-energy vehicle production quotas, targeting a seven-fold increase in NEV sales and considering a ban on gas guzzlers as China tries to clear the air in polluted cities and cut its reliance on imported oil.

China surpassed the U.S. in 2009 as the world’s largest automotive market and in 2015 as the biggest NEV market. Already the biggest electric-car market, China accounted for more than half of worldwide sales last year.

Xi attended the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan, often referred to as China’s Hawaii, and reiterated pledges to open sectors from banking to auto manufacturing.

 

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Photo Credit: China's Hainan province is a test case for phasing out gas cars. SeongJoon Cho / Bloomberg