Weifang focuses on innovative growth

By SUN SHANGWU,JIANG CHENGLONG and ZHAO RUIXUE in Weifang, Shandong| (China Daily)| Updated : 2024-06-28

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Workers assemble gas-driven engines at Weichai Group in Weifang, Shandong province, in March. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Weifang, a coastal city in Shandong province with a population of over 9 million, is soaring to new heights with a focus on innovation-driven growth in its manufacturing and agricultural sectors, according to the city's Party secretary, Liu Yun.

The city's GDP last year was 761 billion yuan ($105 billion), ranking fourth in the province, with manufacturing a cornerstone of its economic success story.

Weifang boasts a diversified industrial base encompassing 37 of the 41 major industrial categories, with its manufacturing output contributing a 10th of Shandong's total, Liu said in an exclusive interview with China Daily recently.

Four key industries in Weifang — power equipment, high-end chemicals, new-generation information technology and food — have each surpassed output of 100 billion yuan.

In recognition of its industrial prowess, Weifang was selected as one of the first 20 pilot cities for national manufacturing industry upgrades in April.

"This designation is a testament to our rich industrial heritage and solid foundation," Liu said.

The pilot program, approved by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, aims to empower enterprises through equipment upgrade, process improvements and digital integration, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Weifang's leadership is committed to steering the manufacturing sector toward high-end and intelligent production, capitalizing on the strategic merging of real and digital economies. Environmental sustainability is also a key priority, with the city actively pursuing clean and low-carbon manufacturing practices, Liu said.

Beyond manufacturing, Weifang takes pride in its thriving agricultural sector. The city's vegetable production totaled 13.6 million metric tons last year, leading the nation.

Weifang's agricultural prowess extends beyond vegetables. The city boasts robust industrial chains for livestock and poultry, flowers and agricultural machinery, each exceeding the 100-billion-yuan mark.

Technological innovation is also being harnessed to propel Weifang's agricultural sector forward. The city is home to 44 seed research and development enterprises, with domestic vegetable varieties capturing over 70 percent of the market.

Leveraging its historical significance as one of the eastern starting points of the modern maritime silk road, Weifang is actively fostering international economic and trade partnerships. The city's trade network spans 216 countries and regions, and it has ranked among the top three in Shandong for trade volume for nine years.

Liu said Weifang's leadership is committed to vigorously promoting new types of industrialization, nurturing emerging industries like new-generation information technology and machines used to make other machines, and strategically laying the groundwork for future industries such as artificial intelligence.