Shandong's economic structure undergoing modern makeover

By Zhao Ruixue in Jinan and Tan Yingzi in Beijing | (China Daily )| Updated : 2019-07-17

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Visitors examine special productions of Shandong province, including seawater rice and maglev trains that can travel up to 600 kilometers per hour, during a promotional event of the province in Beijing on Tuesday. ZHU XINGXIN/CHINA DAILY

Following a planned explosion, a 150-meter-high smokestack that stood for 15 years at a traditional thermal power generation plant in Weifang, Shandong province, collapsed last Wednesday, making room for a new energy industrial park.

The park, which is designed to feature five new energy projects, is expected to be completed in 2025. Facilities related to the hydrogen fuel cell project, a major national science and technology undertaking, are under construction.

The park is part of the local government's efforts to upgrade its economic structure from traditional industries, such as heavily polluting chemical factories and coal-fired power plants, to new ones that are highly efficient and environmentally friendly.

Boasting rich resources, a long coastline and ample talent, Shandong has long ranked third nationally in terms of GDP, following Guangdong and Jiangsu provinces, after the launch of reform and opening-up in 1978.

But the gap between Shandong and the other two provinces has widened in recent years due to its previous policies focusing on developing State-owned companies and heavy industries, which to some extent resulted in a lack of economic dynamism.

Last year, Shandong built China's first comprehensive pilot area of shifting economic growth drivers.

"We must take advantage of this opportunity (of the pilot zone) to eliminate old industries and establish modern and emerging industries such as modern agriculture and the high-end chemical, new energy and health industries," Liu Jiayi, Party chief of Shandong, said at a news conference on local economic and social development on Tuesday in Beijing.

In recent years, the province has been upgrading its heavy industries and making efforts to promote innovative industries.

Since 2016, Shandong has phased out outdated production capacities and upgraded five advantageous industries - including the chemical industry, agriculture, finance and tourism - and has fostered emerging industries, such as the new generation of information technologies, high-end equipment, new energy and new materials, modern marine, medical and elderly care, and health.

Statistics show that over 2,600 new enterprises in the high-tech sector were set up in Shandong last year, bringing the total number to 8,912.

Production of the branch of the Hangda new material enterprise in Zhucheng, Weifang, is in full swing. The branch, which mainly makes auto parts for new energy vehicles, was attracted to Zhucheng by the city's automobile industrial chain as well as the city's preferential policies on land use that enables the branch to be put into production quickly.

"Our technology can ensure a higher material utilization rate, which means 70 percent of the raw materials can be used for products, while the average ratio in this field is around 60 percent," said Zeng Deyuan, deputy general manager of the branch.

"The province has also forged a competitive edge on marine industries," Shandong Governor Gong Zheng said at the conference.

Located in the Bohai economic rim and sitting on the lower reaches of the Yellow River, Shandong boasts 3,345 kilometers of coastline, accounting for one-sixth of the country's total and providing Shandong with abundant marine resources.

Furthermore, one-third of Chinese academicians in the marine sector are working in Shandong.

"The output from the marine industries accounts for 20 percent of the country's total. Shandong is also the only province in China that boasts three ports that can handle 400 million metric tons of cargo each," Gong said.