New economic drivers go into top gear at Weifang high-tech zone

By Yuan Shenggao| (China Daily)| Updated : 2018-11-06

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Leading companies push projects aimed at boosting capacity, innovation, Yuan Shenggao reports.

The Weifang Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone is gearing up to promote high-quality economic growth, to support the province of Shandong's efforts to replace old economic growth drivers with new ones.

Leading companies including Weichai Power, GoerTek and Shengrui Transmission have announced 66 projects involving millions yuan investment, aimed at boosting their capacity on the innovation front.

Meanwhile, many small and medium-sized companies, such as Wohua Pharmaceuticals and Shandong Tianrui Heavy Industry, have developed their core competitiveness and maintained double-digit revenue growth in recent years.


Technicians at Weichai Power, a leading company in the Weifang Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone, carry out quality inspections at a production line. Photos Povided to China Daily




Visitors at a subdistrict-level museum in the zone look at the exhibits which represent the local traditions and culture.

The zone has implemented a series of measures - including the rollout of e-government application systems - to streamline administration procedures as businesses can apply for certifications or fill in forms online.

Officials in the zone are required to take care of individual projects, so business demand can be served in the quickest and most efficient manner.

Chu Baojie, Weifang's director of communications and Party chief of the zone's working committee, said in 2016 that government officials should be encouraged to "race with entrepreneurs" to promote business development.

Chu noted that SMEs are a major driver in increasing technological innovation and replacing old economic development drivers with new ones.

"For SMEs, the competition to innovate is fierce and time is their lifeblood," he said. "We have to consider problems from the angle of the entrepreneur and help them solve problems in the most effective and efficient manner."

For the zone's government, supporting business development is a key task, while supporting the integration of industry and urban development is seen as equally imperative.

An urban development plan - tailor-made for the zone to support its internationalization, and put together by experts from the United States and Japan - was unveiled early this year.

Over the past 10 months, new traffic systems have been rolled out to upgrade the transport network. In addition, officials said 81 "pocket size" parks have been added to the zone. Other civic improvements have included the redecoration of exteriors of buildings and construction of retail precincts that combine fashion, leisure and entertainment - providing one-stop convenience for residents.

Apart from upgrading its infrastructure, improving the quality of its school system, seen as a vital part of the zone's internationalization, has been enhanced in recent years.

A total of 9 million yuan ($1.29 million) in cash performance bonuses were given to top teachers and school principals on Sept 7, to reward their contributions to education in the zone. The zone also announced it has invested 3 billion yuan to build 26 schools and kindergartens in recent years.

The zone's authorities have vowed to continuously make efforts to ensure that every resident in the region can enjoy good education.

As part of the urban upgrade process, some residents living in rural areas have been relocated to new apartments.

Officials said local authorities had taken great care to ensure relocated residents enjoyed significantly better living conditions in their new homes.

They said the zone would accelerate construction of new apartments, so that people could move into their new homes as soon as possible.

The zone is also encouraging property developers to construct high-end apartments, featuring quality design and efficient property management services, to settle those relocated residents. The construction of low quality properties is not allowed.

Officials said that although residents enjoyed their new lives in the high-rise buildings, they also wanted to preserve some old aspects, representing local traditions and culture.

In response to their demands, the zone built subdistrict-level and village-level museums - so residents can conserve documents containing family trees, social history and anecdotes that have cultural and historical value.

Officials said that those museums would give the younger generations the opportunity to learn the past local traditions and culture.

"Building subdistrict-level and village-level museums to help residents preserve this history is one of the key tasks of the zone," said Fang Guo, a consultant from the zone's administrative committee.

"We are accelerating construction of those museums this year."

To date, 45 subdistrict-level museums, 41 village-level museums, among other projects, have been planned, according to the zone.

Weifang Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone's investment in local living standard enhancement projects has been increasing year-on-year.

The zone invested 3.2 billion yuan in 59 projects in 2016 and 2017. The overall amount is projected to reach 4.03 billion yuan in 2018, according to zone officials.

Liu Jie and Zhou Jinjiang contributed to this story.