Still, Pingtan must prove it can become more than an overgrown construction site.
A new port has been built to receive ferries from Taiwan, but daily services have yet to begin.
A Taiwanese restaurateur surnamed Chang (張), sitting in an empty food court, said he was losing patience after nearly three years of bad business.
“Beijing is really promoting this, they want to make it even better than Hong Kong or Shanghai, so the opportunities are limitless — but the policies are coming too slowly,” he said.
Meanwhile the onslaught of development has made winners and losers of the original islanders.
Some complained that construction work went to non-local crews brought in by developers, while living costs had spiked, and a fisherman surnamed Chen (陳) said their seaside houses were being torn down.
“There have been no benefits at all,” he said.
Yet 28-year-old art entrepreneur Lin Ping said business prospects had soared and the new bridge and roads had slashed travel times.
“If it weren’t for Taiwan, Pingtan wouldn’t be all that it is today,” he said. “As for promoting reunification, that’s hard to say.”