The skyline over Lujiang River in Xiamen, Fujian province, East China. [China Daily]
The busy berths at Xiamen por. [China Daily]
Xiamen, an international modern port city and islands along the southern coastline, was among the first beneficiaries of the reform and opening up policy launched 30 years ago.
Facing the Taiwan Straits, Xiamen was one of four special economic zones approved by the country decades ago. Thanks to the opening, the medium-sized island city became an "experimental field" through its cooperation with the outside world.
In 1978, Xiamen's gross domestic product (GDP) was 480 million yuan. New vigor from the opening policy sharply raised its production and competitiveness so that by 2007, the city's GDP exceeded 137.5 billion yuan and its per capita GDP hit 56,595 yuan, ranking it high among cities in the nation.
By 2007 its output of hi- and new-tech products surpassed 120 billion yuan, some 58 percent of the city's total. Its competitive strength ranks 10th among the country's 200 large and medium-sized cities.
The opening brought the city other fundamental changes. From a semi-closed city with poor transport facilities, the city is now a modern metropolitan area on the west coast of the Taiwan Straits, a melting pot for businesspeople from across the Straits and all over the world. More than 600 million visitor trips from Taiwan have now been recorded.
Today Xiamen is a city of greenery and flowers, not only due to its sub-tropical climate, but also to the city's pursuit for sound ecology amid high economic growth. Its per capita green area is 26.13 sq m, with a green coverage ratio of 43 percent. Its drinking water is 100 percent up to the standards, it disposes of 100 percent of its garbage and the urban sewage treatment rate is 84.7 percent.
Xiamen has won a number of titles including the "international city of flowers" and the "UN livable habitat" award.
The distinct differences of rural and urban lands decades ago are almost gone today. As the city integrates the development of neighborhoods, towns and villages, the city's urban areas spread to 180 sq km in 2007 from 14 sq km in 1980. The urbanization rate is 68.3 percent, among the leading cities on the mainland.
People's living standards have improved sharply. The disposable income of urban residents in Xiamen was 21,503 yuan in 2007 compared to 450 yuan in 1980. That of rural residents was raised to 7,637 yuan from 210 yuan. The average dwelling space was 31.92 sq m for urban residents, up from 9.26 sq m, and that of rural residents was up to 52.3 sq m from 17.55 sq m.
There are 1,087 schools in the city and 1,355 out of every 10,000 people have received at least three-year technical school training. And 90 percent of its people are under the social security net for old age, medical care, occupational injuries and unemployment.