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Plans to further open up coastal city in next 5 years

By SONG MENGXING| China Daily| Updated: November 22, 2021

Government intends to focus on high-quality growth, development

The coastal city of Qingdao in East China's Shandong province will further its opening-up and high-quality development during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25).

Wei Liyong, an official from the Qingdao committee of the Communist Party of China, introduced the city's comprehensive and in-depth reform plan on Sept 2.

Qingdao boasts the China-Shanghai Cooperation Organization Local Economic and Trade Cooperation Demonstration Area, which covers the whole city; and the China (Shandong) Pilot Free Trade Zone Qingdao Area in its West Coast New Area.

That is a big advantage for its reform and development, according to the plan. Qingdao should use it to develop a new platform for cooperation related to the Belt and Road Initiative, and continue efforts to become a regional hub for international trade.

Yu Hao, deputy chief at the Qingdao commercial bureau, talked about the city's main objective of opening-up at a news conference on Sept 14.

He said, as a new BRI cooperation platform, the China-SCO demonstration zone is expected to be completed during the 14th Five-Year Plan.

He added that the trade volume between Qingdao and the SCO member countries is projected to increase 30 percent annually on average from 2021-25.

The Qingdao area of the Shandong free trade zone is planned to develop in a high-quality way. Its total fixed-asset investment is expected to reach 100 billion yuan ($15.47 billion) by the end of 2025 while the imports and exports are anticipated to surpass $31 billion that year, with annual average increase rate at about 15 percent during the five years.

New consumption models, such as e-commerce, in the area are expected to generate an operational revenue exceeding 30 billion yuan in 2025, according to Yu.

He said Qingdao will develop into a regional international trade hub during the 14th Five-Year Plan. Its commodity imports and exports are projected to increase 7 percent annually on average during the period while service trade is expected to rise 8 percent.

Local e-commerce companies are planned to have their imports and exports amount to 80 billion yuan by the end of 2025, with an annual average growth rate exceeding 70 percent.

The Qingdao government also hopes inbound and outbound investment will rise continuously and steadily, according to the plan. The total paid-in foreign investment in Qingdao is expected to reach $35 billion yuan during 2021-25 and its outbound investment is projected to amount to $10 billion.

Li Hucheng, deputy director at the Qingdao transport bureau, said at another news conference on Sept 3, that enhancing opening-up cannot be separated from transport infrastructure support.

He said a milestone of the transport industry is that Qingdao Jiaodong International Airport began operation on Aug 12, which would aid in the city's opening-up.

Li said the city's comprehensive transport plan for 2021-25 involves building Qingdao into a globally competitive transport hub.

The city government also plans to develop a 40-minute commuting circle between main urban areas and suburban districts by 2025. The increasing number of flights and air routes will also make it a national aviation hub capable of reaching domestic cities within three hours by that year.

In the marine industry, Qingdao boasts 30 percent of the nation's high-profile academics and researchers. It has 40 percent of the country's high-level marine research and development platforms. Building on such strengths, Qingdao aims to become a globally influential marine science city during the 14th Five-Year Plan, Wu Xuyong, deputy chief of the Qingdao science and technology bureau, said at a news conference on Sept 7.

He said the marine industry will focus on fields such as marine medicine and biological products, advanced maritime equipment, marine information and the commercialization of marine scientific and technological research results.

Strategically emerging industries are also a priority for Qingdao's development from 2021-25. Its R&D expenditure is expected to account for 2.9 percent of the city's GDP and the number of high-tech companies will reach 6,500 in 2025, Jin Liang, an official at the Qingdao development and reform commission, said at a news conference on Sept 16.

He said the city will center on nine strategically emerging industries for 2021-25, such as new-generation information technology, advanced equipment, new energy, new materials and aerospace.

He added that the city will continue to foster new emerging industries, including life science and virtual reality.

Qingdao's financial industry burgeoned in recent years and the 14th Five-Year Plan will be a key period for the industry to reach a higher level, Wang Jinling, deputy director at the Qingdao financial supervision and administration bureau, said at a news conference in early September.

"Qingdao will help companies go public, as an important means for its high-quality development during the 14th Five-Year Plan," Wang said, adding that the number of Qingdao's companies listed on both domestic and overseas markets will surpass 100 by the end of 2025.