The blue sea makes Yantai, Shandong province, more attractive to investors. Photo by Hou Heliang
Yantai, one of the first 14 coastal cities in China approved to open up, embarked the process in 1984.
"Great change has taken place," said Tian Zengcheng, who was the deputy director of the managing committee of Yantai Economic and Technological Development Area (YEDA) 24 years ago.
Along coastal stretches of bare sand in Shandong province, the YEDA was established in October of 1984.
Now YEDA is a modern industrial city with skyscrapers lining the once-deserted beach.
It has yielded great returns, with about 12,000 earthmoving machines made there sold overseas every year as nearly 800 cars rolls off its production lines every day and about 8,000 mobile phones are produced every hour.
The business environment has drawn investors from home and abroad, including 43 Fortune 500 enterprises and more than 60 world-famous multinationals from 37 countries and regions including the United States, Japan and South Korea.
Industrial clusters have been formed in the zone, manufacturing autos, mobile phones, computers, equipment and even ships are now based in the zone.
Expansive facilities also produce polyurethane, spare parts, 3G mobile phones, computers and consumer electronic products.
Due to its efforts protecting environment, YEDA is held up as a model area by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Ministry of Environmental Protection of China. It is also a pilot region for a cyclic economy in China.
Covering one-60th of the city, YEDA generates one-sixth of its GDP, one-fifth of revenues, a third of production value from high technology and half of the city`s total import and export value.
Comprehensive evaluations place YEDA sixth among the 54 State-level industrial areas.
"The opening-up boosted Yantai`s economy and it is playing a decisive role in the city`s current and future economic development," said Sun Yongchun, Party chief of Yantai.
Twenty-four years ago, only 1.5 percent of the 17,400 pieces of industrial equipment owned by the city`s enterprises were up to international standards.
In the years since, some $15.8 billion in capital from 11,000 overseas-invested companies has given the area vibrancy. Trade by foreign-invested enterprises accounts for 84 percent of the city`s total and generates 48.9 percent of its total revenue.
With a GDP of 288 billion yuan, Yantai ranked seventh of the 14 coastal cities and second in Shandong province in 2007.
In 1984 the area had very few top-class roads. An airport or highways were nowhere to be seen in the city, which was better known as the end of rail line.
Yantai now has more than 13,500 km of roads and highways extending in all directions. Laishan International Airport serves regular routes to 30 cities at home and abroad. Yantai port, with an annual throughput of over 150 million tons, has trade links with more than 100 ports in about 70 countries and regions, making it alone an important center of foreign trade in north China.
A ferry railway linking with Dalian makes Yantai no longer the end of the railway but a portal connecting northeast China with Shandong province and the southeast coast.
Twenty-four years ago, per capita housing was no more than 9 sq m in the city - which has now risen to 26.4 sq m in the urban area and 27.8 sq m in the countryside.
UN Habitat award
The city received a UN Habitat award and is listed among the Top 10 cities for quality life in China. More than 20 international economic and trade galas have been held in Yantai.
"With the opening-up going deep, Yantai is developing into an international city and a processing and manufacturing base," Sun said.
The city`s total import and export value in the previous nine months increased by $1.4 billion over 2007`s full-year total, a sharp contrast to the general slip due to the global financial crisis.
"More Fortune 500 enterprises` settlement can drive industrial development and help cushion market risks," said Yu Dong, head of Yantai Bureau of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation.
It is investment from multinationals that raises the city`s ability to weather the crisis.
The opening-up has made Yantai a part of the global economy and will power the city to getting stronger.