Zhanjiang on the growth accelerator
Dynamic opening-up city adds weight to the construction of its transport network, marine economy, Chen Hong reports.
Zhanjiang, one of the most important marine cities in southern Guangdong province, is strengthening its reform and opening-up effort to accelerate its already rapidly growing economy and to enhance its development potential, according to senior local officials.
"Zhanjiang is one of China's first 14 coastal opening-up cities and is now an important area that links the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the urban agglomeration of the Beibu Gulf," said Zheng Renhao, Party secretary of Zhanjiang.
Clockwise from top: The
China Marine Economy Expo in Zhanjiang attracts some 50,000 professional
visitors and more than 500,000 public visitors. [Photo by Ouyang Ze/For China Daily]. An
aid aircraft performs a rescue operation drill during the expo. Foreign
delegates show interest in the new products at a booth during the expo. [Photo by Ouyang
Ze/For China Daily]. Visitors take photos with China's manned submersible
Jiaolong. [Photo by Liu Jicheng/For China
The importance of the reform and opening-up would add weight to the
construction of its transportation network, the upgrade of port facilities and
the repositioning of the marine economy, he said.
The city plans to get support from the provincial and central governments to set up a free trade port in Zhanjiang and put Zhanjiang Port and Donghai Island on the map as a part of the China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone, as it expands.
"The move aims to strengthen our commerce with Hong Kong and Macao, so that our opening-up performance can be upgraded and optimized and we can participate more actively in the construction of the greater bay area," Zheng said.
While reaching out for increased integration with the greater bay area, the city - located at the southernmost part of Guangdong province that is separated from Hainan by a strait - can seek commercial opportunities with the island province on the other side.
"Both the greater bay area and Hainan enjoy national strategic policy arrangement," Zheng said.
"Zhanjiang is located at a key position in between that can't be replaced."
The city will stay on course to develop its port processing trade and entrepot trade, that are complimentary with Hainan's economy, and make full use of the spillover effect of the preferential policies that the nation has implemented for Hainan, Zheng noted.
The city also plans to get the approval from the central government to be a Statelevel pilot to explore a quality development mode for the marine economy, Zheng revealed.
Zhanjiang is expected to be developed as a strategic stop to promote commerce between countries and regions along the Maritime Silk Road, to fit into China's modern marine economic system - and to become a powerful engine that can link and balance the development of land and ocean, he explained.
Transportation should be given top priority, he noted.
After the first high-speed rail came into service in July, it took about three hours to travel from the city to Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong.
However, the municipal government of Zhanjiang plans to further reduce the travel time to two hours to any of the cities in the greater bay area, after four high-speed rail links are gradually put in place in the near future.
The local government also plans to upgrade its deepwater port channel, currently capable of handling vessels with a capacity up to 300,000, to 400,000 tons, Zheng said. After the improvement, the port will be a real international seaway that can handle direct sea traffic from more than 150 countries and regions.
Air transportation has not been neglected, either. The city's existing airport handled just over 2 million passengers last year. A new international airport, located more than 20 km away, will go into service by 2020, according to a government blueprint.
Fan Xinlin, vice-president of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade's Guangdong committee, said the city will have a better future given its favorable location, desirable port conditions and important position as a sub-center of the province.
"The council will continue to act as a bridge and a platform to help Zhanjiang go global and make the city better known by the world. It is the best time to invest in Zhanjiang," Fan said.