The Beilun District in Ningbo in East China's Zhejiang Province is racing against time to secure the district's aggressive blueprints set for the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10).
"We are sparing no efforts to translate Beilun into an important part of the international shipping centre in East Asia, an important manufacturing base and modern regional logistics centre in East China, and a modern coastal city," said Yu Lei, head of the district government.
Nicknamed "a bright pearl on the coastline of the East China Sea," Beilun enjoys unique geographic advantages and sound transportation facilities.
Located in the middle of the Chinese coastline, Beilun is embraced by seas on three sides, with the Hangzhou Gulf to the north, the Xiangshan Bay to the south and the Yinzhou District to the west.
The district is now surrounded by four international airports, which can be reached within three hours. In addition, the district boasts well-developed transportation networks of sea shipping, railways and highways.
Yu is quite optimistic that Beilun is going to play a much more crucial role in the sea shipping industry in the Yangtze River Delta in coming years.
Beilun Port is one of China's largest deep-water ports, with a depth of 17 metres stretching along the coast of Beilun.
The port is further protected against storms by the mountainous islets of Zhoushan, just off the coast of Beilun.
Four State-level development zones have been established in the districts, namely the Ningbo Economic and Technological Development Zone, Ningbo Free Trade Area, Daxie Development Area, and Ningbo Export Processing Area.
With the completion of the Hangzhou Bay Bridge in 2008, a multi-billion-yuan project linking Ningbo with Shanghai and Suzhou in the neighbouring Jiangsu Province, Beilun is set to receive increased volumes of international freight and enjoy closer ties to the metropolis of Shanghai, the biggest economic powerhouse in China.
"During the 11th Five-Year Plan, Beilun will accelerate its pace to attract more strategic investors by offering more preferential policies in different industries," Yu said, adding that the red carpets will be specially rolled out for foreign investments with high-tech backgrounds.
Yu also pledged to perfect the district's investment environment, ranging from offering sound infrastructure facilities to improving administrative efficiency.
And building an environment-friendly city is on top of the district's development agenda, Yu said.
At present, the district owns the Yandong Sewage Treatment Plant and many other sewage treatment facilities, as well as pollution discharge pumping facilities, with a daily sewage treatment capacity of 180,000 tons.
The sewage and drainage pipelines in the industrial areas and living areas are extending in all directions.
Beilun has obtained the ISO 14001 environmental management certificate. Besides this, it has been named a national model zone in operating the ISO14000 system.
Beilun has made great strides in economic and social development during the 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05) period, statistics from the Ningbo Trade and Economic Co-operation Bureau show.
In 2005, gross domestic product in Beilun reached 27.4 billion yuan (US$3.4 billion), and increase of 15.8 per cent from the previous year.
The average per capita disposable income for urban and rural residents reached 17,408 yuan (US$2,176) and 8,000 yuan (US$1,000) respectively, an increase of 9.6 per cent, and 12 per cent year-on-year.
(China Daily 06/08/2006 page16)