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Coastal new area spurs growth, improves locals' livelihoods

By Yang Cheng ( China Daily )

Updated: 2017-06-09

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Qingdao West Coast New Area, an emerging hub in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, has seen stunning annual GDP growth of 12 percent since its founding three years ago, taking the lead among China's national-level new areas.

"Passion and innovation are working wonders on the land and sea, driving a fundamental transformation in the area," said Wang Jianxiang, chief of the area's Party committee. The new area covers a total of 2,096 square kilometers on land and 5,000 sq km of sea.

Li Fengli, director of the administrative committee of the Qingdao West Coast New Area, said: "Everybody pins high hopes on the new area and we are committed to transforming the blueprint into reality, step by step."

Coastal new area spurs growth, improves locals' livelihoods

A total of 35 preferential policies have been approved and 30 national and provincial-level reforms have been launched in the area. Among them 15 innovative reforms have become influential nationwide. Overall, 1,000 projects have been launched in the area, with a combined investment of up to 1 trillion yuan ($147 billion).

Twenty-seven leading projects, each with investment of above 10 billion yuan, have seen their construction fast-tracked, including a cinema town owned by the country's entertainment giant Wanda Group, a world expo town established by China Railway Engineering and Hewlett-Packard's big data center.

A total of 41 new projects recently received investment from Fortune 500 companies. The total number of such projects in the city has now hit 193. According to the area's Party chief, the strategies undertaken to develop the ocean economy have had a significant impact not only on the local area, but also the whole province.

Echoing Wang, Liu Wen, deputy head of the Sino-German Eco Park located in the new area, said innovation and brands in the marine sector have lured a number of global heavyweights, including Siemens and Continental, and the park has won a number of international accreditations.

Yang Bin, general manager of Qingdao West Coast New Area's investment arm under China Railway Engineering, said he has witnessed the great "passion and speed" of the new area, which has encouraged his own greater passion for innovation and construction in the area.

He said his company's expo town project, covering 343,000 sq m, will become the permanent venue for some major international events, such as the East Asia Marine Cooperation Platform, a new high-level program under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.

"We have strong confidence to say that we are creating a West Coast model. The speed, the standard and the infrastructure are unparalleled in China," he said.

The company plans to inject an additional 20 billion yuan on top of the previously planned 50 billion yuan investment, in a bid to spur the new area on to higher-level achievements.

Similarly to other national-level new areas, the emerging zone requires the support of a strong education sector to aid its industrial growth. The new area boasts leading faculties, universities and resources, including the Qingdao University of Technology.

Wang Yajun, the university's Party committee chief and president, said that in response to the rapid growth of the young new area, the university will move its campus there, making greater use of its advantages in order to aid the new area's growth.

Benefiting locals

The presence of international companies, the government's supportive policies and the area's growth have benefited local residents, whose disposable income has grown by 10 percent each year.

To local residents' delight, 4,278 poor families living under China's poverty line in suburban areas and 769 families in urban areas are no longer deemed to be poverty-stricken. Business, government and university representatives remarked positively about the new area, and some local residents shared their insights on the new area's remarkable evolution.

Song Jianwen, head of a local charity association, said the transportation, in particular the first phase of the No 13 subway train, has benefited local economic growth.

"We local residents are delighted to take the subway to experience the city's major face-lift, the optimization of the infrastructure as well as the tremendous changes brought about by major projects."

Pang Qiuxiang, a renowned charity worker living in the area, said the new area's government has provided great support to her charity, which makes her and her beneficiaries feel like they are "living in new homes".

The new area's officials discovered that she donated all the income, up to 700,000 yuan given by the government to move to another area, to local poor families, benefiting 2,000 people.

The government officials assisted Pang's proposals to help poor kindergarten children and supported her work in waiving part of their education and food fees.

They were impressed by Pang's deeds and promoted her as a national role model. Her family was honored as a national-level civilization family, a top laurel offered to charitable and harmonious families.

Some local residents have voiced concern that government spending will be focused on construction projects.

Local officials said that the new area will increase its spending to benefit locals' livelihoods. Such investment will account for 80 percent of the annual fiscal output in the new area in the near future, they said.

yangcheng@chinadaily.com.cn

 Coastal new area spurs growth, improves locals' livelihoods

China Railway Engineering's expo town project is now under construction in the Qingdao West Coast New Area. Covering 343,000 sq m, it will become the permanent venue for some major international events.Photos Provided To China Daily

 Coastal new area spurs growth, improves locals' livelihoods

The new area gives priority to the ocean economy. A total of 41 new projects recently received investment from Fortune 500 companies. The total number of such projects in the city has now hit 193.

(China Daily 06/09/2017 page7)