Regional programs offer a shot in the arm
Central govt economic plans set to benefit Delta
Because it has been included in two regional development programs sponsored by the central government, the city of Dongying in Shandong province is expecting rare opportunities for high-quality and sustainable growth, a senior local official said.
Located in the Yellow River estuary, Dongying is part of two special economic zones approved by China’s State Council for promoting regional development — the Yellow River Delta Ecological Economic Zone and the Shandong Peninsula Marine Economic Zone.
“The national development programs have brought us unprecedented development opportunities — for both economic growth and environmental improvement,” said Liu Shihe, Party chief of the city.
Last year, the city reported a gross domestic product of 300 billion yuan ($49.23 billion), up 12.1 percent from 2011. Its growth rate ranked third among the province’s 17 cities.
“We will try our best to seize the opportunities and make Dongying one of the most ecofriendly and livable cities in the country,” Liu said.
The city must develop environmentally friendly and energy-efficient industries to improve its competitiveness, Liu said.
These industries include advanced manufacturing, ecofriendly agriculture, modern services, alternative energy, new materials and electronic information.
Dongying was listed as a national modern agricultural demonstration zone for fisheries, forestation, vegetables, flowers and animal husbandry last year.
It currently has about 12,000 hectares of water areas for aquiculture, 27,000 hectares of vegetable farms, 133,000 hectares of cotton farms, 53,000 hectares of wheat farms and 27,000 hectares of forest farms.
This year, 32.5 billion yuan was invested in a total of 75 agricultural projects, including 11 eco-friendly forest farms and a 3.25-billion-yuan farm for edible fungus.
A 2-billion-yuan agro-tech park backed by Thailand’s Charoen Pokphand Group is now under construction. Covering an area of nearly 67,000 hectares, the park integrates research, breeding, manufacturing and ecotourism.
Rich land resources are the city’s main advantages when it comes to eco-agriculture.
Li Shiyong, head of the local agriculture bureau, said the city has 300,000 hectares of unused land, 413 kilometers of coastline, 120,000 hectares of mudflats and 40,000 hectares of pastures that are all suitable for agriculture and aquiculture.
In addition, the Yellow River, with the highest sand and silt content in the world, creates thousands of hectares of new land for the city every year.
The city now has 156 big, modern farms and 560 agricultural enterprises, generating 20.5 billion yuan of revenue in 2012, up 4.1 percent from the previous year.
Meanwhile, the authorities of Dongying are striving to build the city into a hub for high-tech and modern industries in the province, such as advanced manufacturing, electronic information, alternative energy, wind power and petroleum equipment manufacturing, Party chief Liu said.
So far, 21 large enterprises, each with at least 10 billion yuan in annual revenue, have settled in the city, producing a range of products that include automobiles and auto parts, wind turbines, petroleum equipment and software.
The city now has grown into China’s largest manufacturing site for petroleum equipment, with its revenue accounting for one-third of the industry total.
In the modern services sector, emphasis has been placed on logistics, trade, service outsourcing, tourism and creative industries. In this year alone, 24 new projects with 49.8 billion yuan in funding have been launched in the city.
Chief among these projects are the 8-billion-yuan modern logistics park at Dongying Port, the 10-billion-yuan Swan Lake scenic area and a 1.6-billionyuan military culture park.
Because Dongying is a part of the Yellow River Delta Ecological Economic Zone, the local government has placed equal importance on economic prosperity and environmental protection.
More than 60 key projects involving a combined investment of 18.1 billion yuan have been launched in recent years to expand the coverage of forests and wetlands as well as to provide clean water.
A total of 3.81 billion yuan has been allocated for forestation on a 24,800-hectare area, helping Dongying to be recognized as a National Garden City, with an urban green coverage rate of 41.2 percent.
Covering 153,000 hectares, the Yellow River Delta Nature Reserve in Dongying is one of China’s largest wetlands, providing a natural habitat for almost 300 bird species.
“We have taken a series of measures to restore the wetland and protect its wildlife, including building water diversion and conservation facilities and returning farmlands to wetlands,” said Shan Kai, a specialist at the nature reserve’s research station.
He said about 23,000 hectares of wetlands have been restored over the past few years and another 43,000 hectares are on schedule to be restored by 2015.
People to benefit
To enable more people to share in the fruits of economic growth, the local government has been prioritizing the improvement of the local living standard by building more affordable housing, increasing farmers’ incomes and strengthening public services, said Party chief Liu.
Last year, the per capita disposable income of its urban residents was 30,953 yuan, an increase of 13.2 percent from 2011. And the net income of rural people was 11,489 yuan, up 14.6 percent.
In the first three quarters of this year, the government helped 37,600 rural laborers find jobs in the city and offer 27,200 new vacancies to urban residents. Contact the writers at email@example.com
Once heavily dependent on the petroleum industry, Dongying is now on track to becoming an eco-friendly and livable city.
An electronic plant in Dongying. The city is now shifting its focus to such emerging industries as electronic information, advanced manufacturing and new materials.