Qingdao is set to boost its population by 33 percent over the next 10 years, following the announcement of an ambitious expansion plan that will see the city build a hi-tech "twin" virtually on its doorstep. The proposed initiative will see, Qingdao, the major seaport in the eastern Shandong province, construct a whole new urban development in the adjoining Jiaozhou Bay area.
Xia Geng, the mayor of Qingdao city and a delegate to the National People`s Congress, said: "The current available urban space is too small for further development of the city, so our solution is to develop a new modern city around the Jiaozhou Bay area over the next 10 years."
The city government began to accelerate development of the districts around the Jiaozhou Bay back in August 2008. It is envisaged that it will take 10 further years of construction to establish the area as a vital, international, ecologically-friendly garden-style city.
With a proposed coverage of 362 sq km, the new Jiaozhou Bay will be a state-of-the-art modern city and the home to both a number of high-tech industries and a substantial eco-friendly residential area for high-end professionals. The development strategy will focus on transforming the bay area into a cutting-edge industrial zone and utilize its unique geographical location to create one of northeast Asia`s most important international shipping hubs.
Xia said: "Whilst utilizing the traditional strengths of the urban areas to the east, the new development plan will focus on maximizing the potential of the coastal and land resources of Jiaozhou Bay. This will enable us to accelerate the development of both the central Hongdao district and the Huangdao area to the west. This expansion will ensure that Qingdao has the resources to match the challenges of the 21st century."
Under the terms of the proposed general development plan for the Shandong peninsula during the 2006-20 period, Qingdao will become a "mega city" with a population of 10 to 12 million by 2020. This will see its level of urban residents raised from its current level of 3 million to 5 million.
To ensure the successful implementation of this expansion plan, the local government is currently conducting 10 in-depth evaluation programs, aimed at ensuring the viability of its city planning, pollution control and wetland protection proposals.
Xia said that minimizing the environmental impact of the development has been one of the local government`s priorities: "The land available for further construction around the Bay amounts to more than 400 sq km. It is currently covered by shallow sea, wetlands and saline marshes. We believe it is essential to ensure the protection and appropriate utilization of these natural resources."
As part of the plan, seven development zones will be established along the proposed "eco-coastline". Each one of these will focus on a different business sector, including an economic development zone, a high-tech zone and an export-processing zone.
The scheme will build upon a number of the area`s existing strengths, including a 2 sq km export processing zone in central Jiaozhou Bay and a state-level economic and development technology zone in the western Huangdao area.
As part of the project, Qingdao is also accelerating the construction work on 10 "foundation projects", said to be worth more than 100 billion yuan in total investment terms. These include a 3.1 billion yuan underwater tunnel and a 15 billion yuan cross-sea bridge linking the urban districts of Hongdao and Huangdao.
Over the next five years, some 110 existing enterprises in the Qingdao area will be re-located to the new 900-hectare development area. A pilot scheme, involving 20 businesses, has already been completed.
The new construction strategy is also expected to have considerable knock-on benefits for the proposed development of at least five satellite cities, set within a 100 km reach of the new Qingdao industrial zone.