Editor's note: Huanggang is famous as a revolutionary stronghold in Central China's Hubei province. In recent years, the city's economy has developed rapidly.
China Daily reporters Zhou Lihua, Du Li and Hao Nan hold an exclusive interview with Liu Xuerong, the city's mayor.
Q: In the context of the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, Huanggang was not hit by the economic downturn, but saw its fastest ever development. What are the key reasons for its success last year?
A: The success can be contributed to three things.
The first thing is the support from central policies and the provincial government; secondly, the establishment of the city's development foundation; and finally, we have taken a series of measures to enhance the competitive edge of the local economy.
Of course, our achievements have not just come in one year. In fact, early in 2005, we were already making some important changes and formed some guidance to help local industries develop and attract investment.
The main support of the city's economy used to be agriculture, but today, after a major strategic shift to concentrate more on industry and industrial parks, the city's economy has greatly improved.
We have been trying to invigorate the market economy to attract investment. Beginning in 2006, we set up several city investment companies to finance and build industrial parks.
Q: What kinds of enterprises are the most important in luring investment?
A: Huanggang is still a big agricultural city, and its varied agricultural products account for a considerable proportion of provincial production. In order to actively promote industrialization of agriculture, we need more processing enterprises.
For example Yili, a top milk producer in China has made a foothold in the city where there was previously no dairy cows. Yili has contributed the city's animal husbandry development by investing 650 million yuan.
There are now 17 ranches with 20,000 dairy cows, yet there is still room for growth, because Yili requires 400 tons of milk per day and the city is only producing one eighth of that at the moment.
Q: In a bid to appeal to investors, Huanggang has established several local investment companies as you said. Why did you decide to establish these?
A: Because if we want to develop the economy, we must enlarge our industry. To strengthen the industry means we need to build industrial parks, which require a huge amount of money. So we need a vehicle to borrow the money from the bank, that's why the city investment company was established.
Q: Some netizens said they felt proud when the Hubei provincial economic work conference was held in Huanggang for the first time in 60 years. What do you think about this?
A: This is not only the first time in 60 years but also the first time in the history.
I am very excited about it, but we must remain aware that the city's industry is under developed with a poor and weak economic foundation, and we still have much work to do besides just host a conference.
Q: To promote and upgrade new industrialization has been a top priority for the government in recent years. To date, about 30 industrial clusters have been formed, what impact have these had?
A: All the 30 industrial areas were established and developed in a few years.
The leading one is the steel industry in Tuanfeng, a county of Huanggang. I think these industry clusters are important to support the city's development. But, they are still in the process of growth, for their assets are all less than 10 billion yuan.
Q: Which industry is the most important?
A: I think it is the processing industries, particularly the food and beverage fields, because the assets of this industrial cluster are close to 10 billion yuan and there are many famous brands such as Wahaha, Oishi and Yili.
Q: It seems there are no big changes for the development of tourism, what are the plans for its future here?
A: Many of our valuable tourism resources are being wasted and not used to their best advantage. One big obstacle is transportation. We lack a convenient and safe transportation network. Fortunately, we received an investment of 1.5 billion yuan from the provincial government last year to solve this problem. A further obstacle is the lack of a management mechanism or a benefit joint mechanism. The city's tourism markets are so separated that it is hard to develop a strong integrated brand.
Q: How do you intend to solve this problem?
A: We have created a tourism developing corporation, serving as a financing and operational platform.
It is responsible for the investment, development and management of the sector.
We have also improved the conditions of our scenic spots. I hope changes will take place in tourism this year.
Q: We have noticed that Qichun, a county in Huanggang, is planning to speed up its economic development by using a historical image, Li Shizhen, an ancient Chinese doctor who was born there. Two projects, the Li Shizhen international health and cultural tourism zone and Li Shizhen medicine industrial park, are under construction. How are these two projects progressing?
A: Everything is going smoothly. We plan to build the tourism zone, which cost 4 billion yuan, into an integrated industrial park with a movie and television facility, hotels and restaurants, and a health forum, just like Bo'ao Forum in Hainan province.
As for the medicine park, it will serve as a nationwide distribution center of Chinese herbal medicine materials once it is completed.
(China Daily 05/17/2010 page12)