Marine econo to port city’s s

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - ZHANJIANG ESPECIAL - By ZHANG HAIZHOU in Zhan­jiang, Guang­dong zhang­haizhou@chi­nadaily.com.cn

What are the first things that come to mind when a Chi­nese per­son is asked about Zhan­jiang?

One might men­tion its famed seafood or that it was one of the first 14 Chi­nese cities opened to for­eign in­vest­ment in 1984.

But per­haps it is best known as the first ma­jor port de­signed and built by the Chi­nese af­ter the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China was founded in 1949.

“It opened in 1956, with a 10,000ton ca­pac­ity,” said Zhang Yi, pres­i­dent of the Zhan­jiang Port Group.

“They even filmed a 25-minute doc­u­men­tary when the first in­ter­na­tional boat, one from Poland, ar­rived af­ter it had just opened.”

Nearly seven decades later, the Port of Zhan­jiang came a long way, with its to­tal through­put reach­ing 171 mil­lion tons last year.

“More than 60 per­cent of the port’s busi­ness re­lies on in­ter­na­tional trade,” Zhang said.

Zhang has set his sights higher, ex­press­ing con­fi­dence that an­nual through­put can sur­pass 300 mil­lion tons by the end of 2013.

The port will get a fur­ther boost when the Sino-Kuwaiti petro­chem­i­cal com­plex and the iron and steel pro­ject of Baos­teel Zhan­jiang Iron and Steel Co both go into op­er­a­tion in 2015.

The petro­chem­i­cal com­plex is de­signed to process 15 mil­lion tons of crude oil, while the iron and steel pro­ject is ex­pected to pro­duce 10 mil­lion tons of high-end steel prod­ucts ev­ery year, bring­ing more bulk busi­ness to the port.

Zhang’s con­fi­dence also de­rives from the city’s re­newed com­mit­ment to de­vel­op­ing its mar­itime econ­omy.

“It is sig­nif­i­cantly good news to us,” he said.

At a time when the im­pact of weak in­ter­na­tional trade weighs heav­ily on Zhan­jiang, Zhang said he hopes to turn the port into “a ma­jor dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter” like the ports in Guangzhou and Shang­hai.

“We aim to be one of the top 10 ports in China by 2016,” he said.

With 20,000 square kilo­me­ters of sea area and more than 2,000 kilo­me­ters of coast­line, Zhan­jiang is the third-largest mar­itime econ­omy in Guang­dong prov­ince.

It has tra­di­tion­ally served as an im­por­tant trad­ing cen­ter for aquatic prod­ucts as well as a base for pro­cess­ing and ex­port­ing to the Asi­aPa­cific re­gion.

At a time when the whole coun­try is at­tach­ing un­prece­dented im­por­tance to the sea, Zhan­jiang is also giv­ing new sup­port not just to fish­ing, but also for a wider range of marine-re­lated sec­tors.

When asked to char­ac­ter­ize Zhan­jiang in a few words, Wang

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