The small county-level city of Xintai in Tai'an, East China's Shandong province has long been synonymous with coal mining, but things are beginning to change as the city attracts a flood of new investment for projects in a range of high-tech industries.
Xintai has become extremely adept at attracting investment. During the first ten months of 2016, the city introduced 208 projects funded by domestic capital worth 14.76 billion yuan ($2.15 billion) and 21 foreign-invested programs with a combined value of $138 million.
This wave of investment has helped the city achieve impressive GDP growth of 6 percent year-on-year for the first three quarters of 2016. Xintai's total GDP has now reached 66.37 billion yuan.
The city's clear strategy seems to be one of the reasons it has succeeded in attracting large-scale investment. Xintai's government set precise investment attraction targets based on its established industries, with the focus on backbone enterprises and high-end technology.
It has established cooperation with many of China's industry giants and top science parks, including Beijing's Zhongguancun, the high-tech park often referred to as "China's Silicon Valley", Shandong-based medical equipment giant Wego, and Beijing-based China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Group (CECEP).
Xintai signed 12 projects with Zhongguancun to establish intelligent manufacturing industry parks with a total investment of 3.28 billion yuan.
The city in central Shandong is also looking to become a hub for renewable energy, and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with five leading domestic energy enterprises to build a photovoltaic (PV) solar power generation project on the city's mining sites.
The PV project is also part of Xintai's contribution to the CoRE program, an initiative launched by the Sino-German Climate Change Program in April 2015, which aims to turn the city into a "new energy demonstration city" integrating PV power generation projects with green agriculture initiatives, research and education programs, and tourism projects.
Xintai plans to make an upgraded coal power industry, high-end manufacturing and emerging industries the three pillars of its local economy. It will support these three pillars by developing industrial clusters, including electric transmission and transformation equipment, photoelectric technology and aseptic packaging material.
Another important project is the August 2016 merger of Xintai-based LED manufacturer Prosperous Star Optoelectronics and UK-based Graphene Lighting, the company founded by Andre Geim, the man who discovered graphene.
The deal is a sign of the importance Xintai is attaching to the new material industry, and also heralds a new breakthrough for the graphene industry itself: The company will be the first enterprise to realize the large-scale application of graphene in in LED lighting.
Xintai is looking to build on this success, and plans to develop a graphene industry cluster in the city by building the largest graphene industry base in China.
The city also promises to optimize its services, including e-commerce, financial insurance and culture creativity. And it never stops developing modern agriculture featuring organic vegetation, forest and fruits, tea, silk and livestock.