West Coast New Area

40 years on: Qingdao's ascent to intl metropolis

( | 2024-05-08


Qingdao in Shandong province transforms from a small coastal fishing village into an international metropolis with towering skyscrapers in 40 years. [Photo/Guanhai News]

In May 1984, Qingdao in Shandong was approved by the State Council as part of the first group of 14 coastal cities in China to open up to the world. After 40 years, the city has undergone rapid and remarkable changes.

Over the past 40 years, the city's GDP has increased from 7.18 billion yuan ($993.65 million) in 1984 to over 1.57 trillion yuan in 2023. Local fiscal revenue has grown from less than 1.4 billion yuan to 133.78 billion yuan, and the city's urbanization rate has continuously increased, reaching 78.3 percent by the end of 2023.

Qingdao has seized the opportunity brought about by China's opening-up and leveraged its strengths to promote high-quality development. As a result, the city has becoming increasingly influential on the world stage.

In 1984, Qingdao was approved to establish one of the first national economic and technological development zones, granting it the right to expand economic and technological autonomy internationally and providing foreign investors with preferential treatment second only to special economic zones.

In the same year, the first Sino-foreign joint venture in Shandong province - Qingdao Huahe International Leasing Co Ltd, opened, marking the beginning of foreign investment in Qingdao. To date, Qingdao has attracted investment from 179 Fortune global 500 companies. Foreign-funded enterprises account for less than 1.1 percent of the total number of enterprises in the city, and they contribute over a quarter of the city's tax revenue as well as more than one-sixth of its import and export volume.

With the acceleration of opening-up, Qingdao's outward-oriented economy has strengthened, with enterprises expanding abroad to explore market opportunities.

Official statistics shows that by the end of 2023, Qingdao had 21,700 foreign trade enterprises. Customs data shows that Qingdao's total import and export value has grown from $1.93 billion dollars in 1993 to $124.64 billion in 2023, an average annual growth rate of 14.9 percent.

The Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway was China's first high-speed rail project overseas and a globally recognized symbol of the "Made in Qingdao" brand. Brands like Haier, Hisense, and Tsingtao Brewery have expanded from Qingdao to the world, deeply integrating into the global supply chain and becoming leaders in China's strategy to promote global brand globalization.