Xiamen's role as opening-up window enhanced by high-quality development
A visitor checks out an array of Qilin batteries at CATL's booth during a trade fair in Xiamen, Fujian province, in September. [PHOTO/CHINA NEWS SERVICE]
Dubbed a window of China's opening-up, the coastal city of Xiamen located in the eastern province of Fujian has been at the forefront of paving the way for high-quality development.
The GDP of Xiamen surged from 292.2 billion yuan (about $40.7 billion) in 2012 to 780.3 billion yuan in 2022, with an annual increase of 7.5 percent. Foreign trade exceeded 900 billion yuan in 2022.
During the period, the accumulated fixed-asset investment totaled over 2.5 trillion yuan in the city, and the annual realized investment more than doubled to 297.1 billion yuan in 2022.
Last year, the output value of machinery and electronic information manufacturing stood at about 550 billion yuan or 61 percent of the total industrial production value.
Emerging industries of biological medicine, new energy and new material took up 32.4 percent, while cultural and creative industries maintained double-digit growth.
Established in 1993, Taikoo (Xiamen) Aircraft Engineering Company Limited (TAECO) has played a pivotal role in the transformative journey of Xiamen, propelling it to become the pioneer in developing China's aeronautical maintenance industry.
According to Li Zhenglin, vice president of TAECO, the advantage of Xiamen as one of China's special economic zones impelled the company to start a business in the city.
The implementation of favorable policies and streamlined customs clearance procedures has significantly contributed to the rapid growth of engine maintenance, undercarriage servicing, and power transmission and distribution industries, Li explained.
He added that the local government took a significant stride two years ago by deciding to exempt import tariffs on aviation materials, a remarkable step for domestic enterprises to cut costs in aeronautical maintenance.
Meanwhile, Xiamen is making efforts to attract foreign investment, especially in areas of high-end trade, intelligent equipment, financing and biological medicine.
ABB Xiamen Switchgear Co, Ltd, founded in 1992, is another joint venture in Xiamen. Eric Cai, the company's general manager, said that the company has upgraded its production lines from traditional switchgear to smart ones over the past 30 years.
"This is a high-quality development path," he said, adding that such progress would not have been achievable without the improving business environment of China and preferential policies by Xiamen.
To further the opening up, Xiamen has been accelerating major infrastructure projects for global transport, including the construction of a new international airport in its Xiang'an District, slated for completion in 2026.
By the end of March 2023, 296 investment projects in the countries and regions along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) were registered in Xiamen, with a total contracted volume of 6.04 billion dollars. These projects cover manufacturing, wholesale and retail, agriculture and fishery sectors.
As a result, 689 foreign-funded enterprises were established in Xiamen by the BRI countries and regions in the past decade, with contracted utilized foreign capital standing at $1.04 billion.
In 2022 alone, the number of newly launched BRI foreign-funded businesses had more than quadrupled, and the trade volume of cross-border e-commerce surged by 43.7 percent.
Thanks to the BRI, Xiamen has established cooperation with domestic and foreign institutes and colleges to nurture talents. It has 22 sister cities and 15 friendly ports worldwide as of the end of 2022.
Better livelihood for local residents has been a top priority of Xiamen's government work.
During the 2012-2022 period, the disposable income per capita in Xiamen's urban and rural areas saw an annual increase of 7.8 percent and 8.9 percent, respectively.
The city has improved the quality and distribution of education resources, built regional medical centers and large healthcare facilities, increased units of affordable housing for rental and sale, and stabilized supplies and prices of commodities.
Furthermore, the sewage treatment capacity in the city increased from 830,000 tonnes per day in 2012 to 2.04 million tonnes in 2022, and garbage disposal capacity went up from 1,000 tonnes per day to 5,900 tonnes.