Marine economy key for Weihai growth

By ZHAO RUIXUE in Jinan| (China Daily)| Updated : 2023-03-15

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Fishing boats head out to sea in Weihai, Shandong province. The four-month fishing moratorium in the Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea ended on Sept 1, 2022. [Photo by Li Xinjun/For]

Weihai, a coastal city at the easternmost end of Shandong province facing South Korea and Japan, will continue to chart its path to modernization through developing the modern marine economy, including expanding maritime trade channels, the city's mayor said.

"Although Weihai is located at the end of the land transportation, as long as we give full play to the logistics channels that combine land transportation and the maritime lines, Weihai can be a transportation hub in Northeast Asia," said Kong Fanping, a deputy to the National People's Congress and mayor of Weihai.

An agreement signed between Weihai and Incheon in South Korea for rapid cargo delivery came into effect on Feb 24.

With the agreement, cargo-loaded trucks will reach Incheon Airport directly after arriving at Incheon Port from Weihai without undergoing a separate clearance process and the cargo won't need to be moved to local trucks, which can significantly drive down costs and time required for delivery.

This direct route connecting Weihai Airport, Weihai Port and Incheon Airport and Incheon Port will speed up the international logistics routes that connect Japan and South Korea in the east and Europe in the west, said Kong.

"It will attract more international trade runners to use this golden maritime trade channel," said Kong.

While expanding maritime logistics channels, Weihai has been putting great efforts into developing marine economies.

Stretching along 968 kilometers of coastline, Weihai boasts rich marine resources.

The gross output from the marine economy of Weihai registered an annual increase of 8.5 percent during the past five years. The marine economy contributes 36.6 percent to the city's gross domestic product.

The city has built 16 national-level marine ranch demonstration zones, with a total area of 90,000 hectares, making the city a "marine granary".

In the marine equipment sector, high-end roll-on-roll-off passenger ships and heavy-lift vessels produced in Weihai share 70 percent and 80 percent of China's total market respectively, according to the city government.

Coastal scenery has made the city a popular tourist attraction. Last summer, the city welcomed over 17.7 million visitors, which generated total revenue of 21.7 billion yuan ($3.16 billion), surpassing the same period of 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The ocean is the biggest advantage for Weihai, and Weihai people have very special feelings for the ocean, so we value the quality of the city's marine economic development," said Kong.

She suggested the central government support Weihai to take the lead in blue carbon market trading, which is a new sector of the marine economy.