The ‘Qingdao Coordinates’ | China Unlocked

By Wang Zhe


Since China launched its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), Qingdao, the largest city in Shandong Province, has stood out among Chinese cities with its remarkable achievement of realizing 100-billion-yuan (US$15 billion) GDP growth each year for four consecutive years.

Competitive City

In recent years, Qingdao has left no stone unturned in building three platforms of development, namely the Blue Silicon Valley, the West Coast New Area and the Red Island High-Tech Zone. The Blue Silicon Valley encompasses top-notch research and development resources for marine science and technology, the West Coast New Area aims at developing a strong manufacturing base oriented to the marine economy and the Red Island High-Tech Zone integrates software information, biopharmaceuticals, new materials and intelligent manufacturing.

Since Qingdao was designated a National Financial Pilot Zone for Wealth Management, its financial industry has entered the fast lane of development, exhibiting a pronounced “Qingdao effect” of wealth management. As its financial sector opens wider, the city has promulgated 60 innovative policies in two batches related to new-type financial institutions and cross-border investment and financing, attracting a number of professional wealth management institutions, inspiring more capital to flow into the real economy, promoting diversification of financial services and adding strong impetus to the city’s economic transformation and upgrading.

As one of the first industrialized cities in modern China, Qingdao boasts a solid manufacturing foundation and stays ahead in the country in terms of integrating industrialization and information technology and piloting the “smart city” program in both technology and industry standards. Over the past four decades since China started reform and opening-up, a group of Qingdao-based innovative, trustworthy, patriotic and pioneering enterprises have emerged and grown, playing an exemplary role in pushing forward innovation and entrepreneurship in the coastal city.

Haier Group Corporation has emerged as the most powerful international brand in home appliances as it implements its “going global” plans. With a presence in more than 100 countries, Tsingtao Beer enjoys greater popularity in developed countries than developing countries. Hisense has taken over Sharp’s TV business in North America, acquired Toshiba’s TV division and sponsored the 2016 UEFA European Football Championships and the 2018 FIFA World Cup as part of its global expansion strategy. The CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co., Ltd., a high-speed rail equipment manufacturer (high-speed rail is one of China’s new “four great inventions” in the eyes of foreigners), has invested $100 million in Chicago to develop a plant for the assembly of metro cars, setting a record in the value of China’s export of metro cars to a developed country.

High-speed rail equipment undergoes testing at CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co., Ltd.

Breakthroughs have been made in the city’s development of marine science and technology. The Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology (NLMST), the first of its kind in China, was approved at the end of 2013. Committed to actively serving the national strategy of building a maritime power, NLMST has set up eight labs with different functions, launched a national-level ocean research fleet and basic condition sharing platform on the basis of the “Jiaolong” manned deep-sea submersible, the “Xiangyanghong 01” expedition ship and other advanced research vessels, established the fastest high-performance computing and system simulation platform in the global marine research field, and introduced the “Aoshan Talent” Development Project aimed at attracting high-level talent in the field of marine science from across the globe.

Recently, NLMST joined hands with the United States National Center for Atmospheric Research and Texas A&M University to establish an international joint laboratory for high resolution earth system forecasting, with an intention to pool talent to research climate change, a great challenge facing all of mankind that cannot be solved by any single country alone. In the past three years since its approval, the West Coast New Area has maintained a 17-percent annual growth rate, which has accelerated its pace towards an “era of marine economy”.

Since its establishment in September 2016, Qingdao’s National Technological Innovation Center for Express Trains, China’s first national-level technological innovation center, has drawn global attention and is expected to bring fresh dynamism and new hopes for China’s high-speed rail’s advancement towards a new era in a faster way. As one of its most significant achievements, Fuxing bullet trains, developed by CRRC Qingdao Sifang alongside nearly 30 institutions under the guidance of China Railway Corporation, have already begun official operations across China.

Shaping a National Hub City

At the 12th Qingdao Municipal Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held in early 2017, building a livable and innovative international city and implementing a “higher level of internationalization” strategy were made one of the city’s six major goals to be achieved in the next five years.

Tourists and locals alike clink glasses at the Golden Beach Beer City in Qingdao.

To this end, Qingdao specially established an International City Strategy Promotion Committee (ICSPC), headed by leaders of the Municipal CPC Committee and the municipal government, as well as formulated strategy implementation guidelines and a strategy index system. Recently, Qingdao established the International City Strategy Expert Consulting Committee, inviting Li Zhaoxing, president of the China Public Diplomacy Association, to act as chief consultant, and Long Yongtu, co-chair of the Global CEO Development Conference, as director of the committee. Many seasoned diplomats, renowned scholars and senior managers of multinational corporations from China and foreign countries including Germany, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand are engaged as consultants.

According to Meng Fanli, deputy secretary of the CPC Qingdao Municipal Committee, mayor of Qingdao and director of ICSPC, Qingdao is an important Chinese coastal hub, a popular resort and tourist destination, an international port city and a national historical and cultural city. Under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, it has focused on accelerating innovation-driven and sustainable development while striving to shape itself into a national hub city.

As Qingdao witnesses the start of a variety of national key pilot reforms such as National Pilot City for Innovation-Driven Development, Innovation Demonstration District for Civil-Military Integration, Wealth Management Experimental Zone, National Pilot City for “Internet+Governance Services”, Pilot City for National Standards Implementation Evaluation, Pilot City for “Made in China 2025” and National High-Speed Train Center, new driving forces have been secured for the city’s economic development.


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