New area taking great strides in regional development

By YUAN SHENGGAO| (China Daily)| Updated : 2018-06-10

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Continuous efforts pay dividends, attract thousands of projects

The Qingdao West Coast New Area, an emerging hub in the coastal city of Qingdao, Shandong province, has seen outstanding results in its regional development since being established four years ago.

The region, which covers a total of 2,127 square kilometers on land and 5,000 sq km of sea area, reported a GDP of 321.3 billion yuan ($50.05 billion) in 2017, a year-on-year increase of 11.1 percent. Among the 19 national-level new areas in China, Qingdao West Coast New Area was ranked as one of top three in terms of overall GDP last year.

Last year alone, the new area attracted more than 1,000 industrial projects, with a combined investment of 1 trillion yuan. Among these, 200 projects have been invested in by Fortune 500-listed companies. A total of 33 projects, each with more than 10 billion yuan in investment, have agreed to move into the new area.

Similar to other national-level new areas in China, the local government is sparing no effort in strengthening education services, aiming to build a solid foundation for long-term growth. More than 10 leading universities, such as Fudan University and Harbin Engineering University, have launched branches in the new area. The total number of education institutes will increase to 20 in the next five years, according to local officials.

Quality growth

The concept of quality development has been promoted in all aspects, officials added.

The new area has long been committed to replacing old economic development drivers with new ones to maintain quality economic growth, as called for by the central government. It has initiated 10 economic upgrade projects covering brand creation, innovation, promotion, experts support, pioneer industrial park construction and industrial reform. Officials of the new area have been assigned tasks to lead economic upgrade-relevant matters.

The new area authority is supporting the growth of the real economy by paying closer attention to the development of information technology, the circular economy, and the smart manufacturing and marine equipment manufacturing industries.

The industrial structure of the region has been optimized thanks to the continuous efforts made by the local government. As of the end of May, its service industry has more than 2,000 businesses, accounting for one-fifth of Qingdao's total. The new area's production of home appliances, ships and marine equipment, vehicles, rubber and petrochemicals, have contributed nearly half of the overall production output value of the city.

Reform engine

In the past four years, a total of 45 reform plans have obtained approval from national and provincial-level authorities to be piloted.

The 10 functional zones in the Qingdao West Coast New Area, covering a total of 100 sq km, focus on the development of different industries and play vital roles in supporting local social and economic development. The 10 zones focus on industries such as the marine, agriculture and culture.

The Port of Qingdao, ranked 7th in the world in terms of annual container handling capacity and 8th in terms of annual cargo throughput, has established trade relationships with more than 700 ports in more than 180 countries and regions.

There are 520 research and development centers and 11 national-level innovation and startup supporting platforms in the area.

The area is home to more than 460 leading experts, including 52 professionals recognized by the One Thousand Talent Plan.

Mechanisms have been created so government staff members have sufficient abilities to provide better services to businesses and residents.

There are also mechanisms to evaluate and punish officials and government employees who fail to meet the required standards.

Looking ahead, the area will continue to promote reform and innovation to support China's development, according to local officials.

"Reform will never end. Innovation is the most valuable treasure," said Wang Jianxiang, chief of the area's Party committee. "We will promote the five development concept of innovation, harmonization, green, openness and sharing, take on our responsibilities and strive to be at the forefront of China's reform."

Living standards and environment enhancement are also key areas closely monitored by the officials of the Qingdao West Coast New Area. The local government revealed that the greenery coverage rate in the area has reached 50 percent.

The average annual disposable income of residents was 39,665 yuan last year. A total of 4,278 families living under China's poverty line in suburban areas and 769 families in urban areas are no longer deemed to be poverty-stricken, according to the government.

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The Qingdao West Coast New Area is the ninth national-level new area in China. MENG JUNTAO/FOR CHINA DAILY

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A world expo town established by China Railway Engineering in the Qingdao West Coast New Area. MENG JUNTAO/FOR CHINA DAILY 

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An automatic container handling system developed by the Port of Qingdao. CHINA DAILY