During the Chinese Spring Festival Gala, a feast of performing arts for the Chinese people, Zhuhai, the forerunner of reform and opening-up in southern China, served for the first time as one of the event's venues to hold a parallel session. The city stunned worldwide audience with a visual triumph of advanced technologies and lighting effects. The headline performances by unmanned cars, aerial vehicles and surface vessels demonstrates its power of innovation.
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, recently completed, is the world's longest sea-crossing bridge. It connects Zhuhai with Hong Kong and Macao, turning the city inseparable in the development strategy of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. On Chinese New Year Eve, the Bridge served as the background and stage for the demonstration of the latest breakthrough in technology.
Super urban cluster driving innovation forward
According to one producer of the Gala, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and Chimelong Ocean Kingdom were chosen as sites of the Gala as they represent the city's openness and innovativeness.
In 2017, China stunned the world with major breakthrough in the fields of major equipment manufacturing and engineering construction. Zhuhai stands out in this wave of "Created in China" with the following: "Zhuhai-1" remote sensing micro-nano satellite constellation, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and China's homegrown AG600 (codenamed Kunlong), the world's largest amphibious aircraft.
The unmanned surface vehicles (USV) performed at the gala are developed by Oceanalpha (Yunzhou Intelligent Technologies) in Zhuhai. On February 11, Asia's first offshore test field for USV was launched in the city. The Oceanalpha–developed USV products are taking the lead across the world, according to Lu Xiaofeng, Zhuhai's deputy mayor. With a maritime area of some 6000 square kilometers, the city will play a prominent role in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and become a major engine of China's marine economy.
The intelligent manufacturing industrial cluster led by Gree Electric, a major Chinese appliance manufacturer headquartered in Zhuhai and Oceanalpha has suggested a change in Zhuhai's industrial structure. Gree has made a foray into such businesses as smart home, new energy technology and intelligent equipment, said Dong Mingzhu, president of Gree Electric. The company distributes its products to over 160 countries and regions under the brand name of Gree, with a worldwide customer base of more than 300 million people.
Statistics show that in 2017 the value-added of Zhuhai's high-tech industries reached 30.687 billion yuan, 27.8 percent of the value-added of industries above the designated scale.
The media view that China will continue to generate enormous positive spillover effect for the world as it marches forward under the guideline of open development over the next five years and beyond.
Zhuhai will face new opportunities with the overall development of the urban cluster within the Greater Bay Area. Data show that the Area has a population of more than 66 million, with a regional GDP of about USD 1.3 trillion, surpassing the San Francisco Bay Area in terms of economic volume. With the full operation of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, Zhuhai gains greater leverage and potential to merge deeper into the Area.
"The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao urban cluster has registered an in-depth integration with the world economy and infrastructure connectivity has been paid more attention," said He Ningka, director of Guangdong Provincial Development and Reform Commission.
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge starting operation has turned the city into a crucial hub for talents, logistics, capital and information from a geographically-limited city.
"Zhuhai is striving to take itself to a new and innovative height with the Bay Area, building more international and advanced platforms for innovation," said Yao Yisheng, Mayor of Zhuhai, "the city's major innovators are going strong, the total number of high-tech companies has exceeded 1400 and the innovative industry has been put on a more sophisticated and advanced track."
Green development for a better life
The winter never fades the thriving Zhuhai, which is now accompanied by the blessing and merry sound of beating drums.
Sound ecological and living environments would significantly enhance competitiveness and soft power of a city. As a new garden city, Zhuhai also represents one of the happiest cities in China. According to the Report on the Work of the Government released on January 16 by Zhuhai administration, Zhuhai will improve the already-strong ecological system and drive urban modernization. Priorities will be given to building it into a more modernized city for living, working and travelling so that the residents shall experience a greater sense of belonging, happiness and pride.
In 2017, Zhuhai built 40-km of fitness trail, 80-km of boulevard and 70-km of greenway, coupled with an afforestation project covering 11 thousand mu (7.3 square km), Yao said. All these efforts are designed to make it as a forest city. It is expected to roll out a new round of city planning this year, creating a more livable environment where production is cost-efficient and ecological system balanced.
These days, it takes both superb environment and economic upgrade for a city's population to live a happy life. As the Chinese economy switches to the phase of high-quality growth, green development has become the consensus for building a modern city and an innovative economy.
Zhuhai, as one of the first batch of national demonstration cities for ecological civilization construction, stays committed to cultivate smoke-free industries including culture and leisure tourism as well as marine economy. This will enhance the soft power for the Pearl River Delta urban cluster and help to shape an eco-friendly Bay Area. In 2017, the Xianglu Bay Beach restoration project was awarded China habitat environment example prize.
Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, situated in Hengqin (a state-level new area), Zhuhai, is the largest ocean-themed park worldwide. The resort boosts the city's tourism and service industries as an most impressive attraction. Over the past eight years, Hengqin has experienced a historic change from a barren island of scattered villages to a powerful economy where its GDP has jumped 55-fold.
A lion dance, Guangdong's intangible cultural heritage, was lively performed at the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom on the Gala, in a way to send best wishes to overseas Chinese worldwide and express people's expectations for better lives in a new year.
Openness drawing higher-level international cooperation
Zhuhai promotes opening-up, starting with shaping a well-connected social environment. In 2017, Zhuhai hosted the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Forum on 'International Communication and Cantonese Companies Going Global,' China International Circus Festival, WTA Elite Trophy, International Mozart Competition for Young Musician, etc. These international cultural exchanges have presented the world with a unique and dynamic Zhuhai. Through the dialogues between Zhuhai and the rest of the world, the concepts of China's Belt and Road Initiative, namely peaceful cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, mutual learning, mutual benefit and win-win results, have been emphasized.
In multi-tiered cultural exchanges, international cooperation on science and technology plays a vital part for Zhuhai to go global. The China-Israel Investment Summit and the China-Latin America and the Caribbean Exposition were respectively held in last June and November in Zhuhai.
China and Israel greatly complement each other on the cooperation of technological innovation, said Gao Zheming, founder of Infinity Group, a renowned Israeli investment company and strategic partner of Zhuhai Huafa Group. China has a strong desire of technological innovation while Israel is a technological and innovative leader lacking market. That means the scientific and technological cooperation for the two countries enjoys a promising future.
In 2017, there were 849 enterprises from Hong Kong and Macao newly registered in Henqing, an increase of 72 percent. The China-Israel Investment Summit hosted some 2700 attending enterprises and over 5200 participants, with a contract value of more than USD 2.5 billion. The China-Latin America and the Caribbean Exposition witnessed 73 projects signed at the opening ceremony with a contract value of more than USD 500 million. Series of statistics indicate that the past year has seen Zhuhai's remarkable achievements in contributing to the construction of a more open and cooperative Greater Bay Area.
"Zhuhai is at the heart of the Greater Bay Area, and is the only city connecting Hong Kong and Macao by a land bridge. Its role as the strategic gateway with enormous advantages in location, transportation and ecological environment will be brought in full play," said Yao. Since its establishment, Zhuhai has enjoyed an eco-friendly environment, competitive industries, reasonable urban landscape and sound business atmosphere. In the new era, Zhuhai serves as a historic and crucial link to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay. These strengths will facilitate the city to make extensive cooperation and exchanges with the outside world.
When the Chinese New Year bell rang, bursts of vibrant fireworks lit the skies above the Bridge. Zhuhai, at the stunning gala, has extended its invitation worldwide as a new window, a connector for dialogues between China and the rest of the world.