By Shannon Najmabadi
Beijing Capital Airport. Image credit: @thewamphyri.
A state-backed Chinese conglomerate is planning to create an 5 billion yuan freeport in Beijing – a tax-free zone for arts and entertainment companies aptly named the Beijing Freeport of Culture.
While the Wall Street Journal says the zone – located next to the Beijing Capital Airport – aims to “stoke the country’s cultural sector,” Jing Daily says the tax-free zone is “an attempt to position the Chinese capital as a leading regional art hub and assuage collector concerns about high punitive import taxes for artwork.”
The Freeport is “expected to partially open next year” and “promises warehouses for art storage, offices for companies involved in everything from luxury goods to software design, and production facilities for film and television.”
Dreamt up by the state-owned conglomerate Beijing Gehua Cultural Development Group, the Freeport is “modelled after the ‘special economic zones’ that made the country a manufacturing superpower,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. However, the Freeport marks the first time this “tax-free, infrastructure investment model” has been used to “facilitate growth in the less predictable arts and culture sector.”
According to the Jing Daily, Gehua will be “collaborating with the Swiss holding company Euroasia, which previously worked on the Singapore freeport” for the project. Sotheby’s has been secured as an initial partner and will conduct auctions at the Freeport following its partial opening in 2014.
Additionally, Gehau hopes to “lure creative talent from abroad” and plans to attract at least 50 foreign and domestic companies to the Freeport by 2016.
“If the Beijing freeport does open according to plan next year, it could prove an important factor in easing current anxieties of some mainland Chinese collectors about high import taxes and ultimately help the development of the Chinese art market as a whole,” according to Jing Daily.