Reform and opening-up has proved a success in the modernization of the coastal city of Qingdao, in eastern China’s Shandong province, Mayor Meng Fanli said.
From 1978, when reform and opening-up was launched, to 2017, the city’s GDP rose from 3.8 billion yuan to 1.1 trillion yuan ($171 billion), with per capita GDP rising from 663 yuan to more than 119,000 yuan.
Qingdao was one of the first 14 coastal cities to open up to the world in 1984. By the end of last year, it had attracted $76.2 billion in foreign investment and 271 projects funded by 141 Fortune Global 500 companies, including Volkswagen, Siemens, Bombardier and Amazon.
“We have carried out a number of opening-up policies to promote reform and development and create an open economy, and it is our unremitting pursuit to build a modernized city,” Meng said.
Qingdao has 69 sister cities and has established economic cooperation partnerships with 76 cities around the world.
A number of top international events have been held in the city, including the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in June and the sailing regatta for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.
“The events have promoted Qingdao’s reform and opening-up to a new level,” Meng said.
Qingdao is now building a demonstration zone to promote trade between China and SCO member countries.
The city also has several national-level industrial parks which enjoy favorable openingup policies, including the Sino-German Eco-Park, Qingdao Economic and Technological Development Zone and Qingdao Bonded Port Area.
“We encourage the concept of globalization in local industrial parks, highlighting market-oriented operations and closer cooperation with advanced overseas counterparts and industry associations,” Meng said.
The Qingdao International Academician Park in the city’s Licang district, launched in June 2016, has brought in 108 academicians from China and abroad to work on developing high-level and cutting-edge technologies that are urgently needed to carry out scientific research and the commercialization of research findings.
Qingdao Port, one of the world’s 10 busiest ports, has trade connections with more than 700 ports in over 180 countries and regions, with throughput capacity reaching 510 million metric tons last year.
The city’s new airport, scheduled to open next year, aims to offer the “best experience” to passengers with intelligent technologies and cultural facilities. It is designed to serve 55 million passengers a year, with 452,000 landings and takeoffs, making it one of China’s busiest airports.
Qingdao is a world leader in the manufacture of high-speed trains, home appliances and marine engineering equipment, and is home to a number of internationally recognized domestic brands, including Haier, Hisense, Tsingtao Beer and CRRC Qingdao Sifang.
With the implementation of the nation’s marine power strategy and Belt and Road Initiative, Qingdao is taking the lead in developing China’s marine industry. The city is now home to 30 percent of China’s marine research institutions and 50 percent of researchers in the field.
Leveraging its rich resources in marine science research, the gross output of the city’s marine sectors was valued at 290 billion yuan last year, a year-on-year increase of 15.7 percent. That accounted for 26.4 percent of the city’s GDP and 20.8 percent of Shandong’s marine economy output.
“Qingdao will optimize the structure of its marine-related sectors with innovation and build the city into a world-renowned marine city,” said Zhang Jiangting, the city’s Party chief.
The city’s marine strategy is mainly driven by three development zones: Jimo district’s Oceantec Valley, a leading high-tech zone for marine research; the Hongdao Economic Zone, a significant part of China’s innovative development strategy; and the West Coast New Area, the ninth national-level new area in China.
The West Coast New Area is taking advantage of its seafront location to develop the marine economy.
The output of the area’s marine industry was valued at 101 billion yuan last year, up 18 percent year-on-year. The area has 117 marine industrial enterprises that each generated operational revenue of more than 20 million yuan last year.