A riverside view of the revitalized urban space of Jinan, Shandong`s bustling capital.
Development plans for the Yellow River Delta (YRD) Eco-economic Zone are now in place and are tipped to rapidly receive State approval. Once this national-level strategy is implemented, it is expected to see the YRD emerging as one of China`s most dynamic new manufacturing and production centers.
Obviously enthused by the prospect, Jiang Daming, governor of Shandong, the home province for the initiative, said: "The YRD is set to become the economic heart of Shandong. It will fully integrate into the Bohai Sea zone, one of China`s pivotal development areas."
In 2008 Shandong unveiled ambitious development plans for the YRD. Under the terms of its proposals, an unprecedented 34 new policies were introduced, each aimed at giving a significant boost to the future prospects of the YRD. Aside from the supportive legislation, the YRD will also benefit from an investment of more 1,500 billion yuan as part of the province`s strategy for the 11th Five-Year Plan Period (2006-10).
The vast development potential of the river delta makes the YRD initiative hugely important to the future prosperity of the area`s coastal region, a region that covers one sixth of the total area of Shandong and is home to six major cities, as well as 19 counties.
The significance of the program has seen it gain international recognition. The United Nations Development Program has listed "supporting the sustainable development of the YRD" as its first priority for aid among its "China Agenda 21" program.
The development of highly efficient eco-friendly economy in the YRD has also been listed as a priority in both the 10th and 11th Five-Year Plan.
Advantages of the YRD
The YRD stretches over 530,000 hectares of unexploited land, including 287,000 hectares surrounding the city of Dongying. Such a swathe of undeveloped terrain is now a rare and valued resource in China`s coastal areas. Its value is further enhanced by the 20 billion cubic meters water that flow through the Yellow River every year, of which 1.6 billion cubic meters are stored in the delta.
The delta also boasts China`s second largest oil field, giving Dongying oil reserves estimated to be in the region of 4.7 billion tons, as well as a natural gas reserve of 221.2 billion cubic meters.
At present, Dongying, the central city of the Yellow River Delta, has committed to the construction of a harbor industrial district, an eco-tourism area, an eco-fishery zone and a number of dedicated livestock areas. It is also set to develop a high-end industrial area of about 1,000 sq km.
Expanding on the city`s plans, Zhang Jianhua, mayor of Dongying said: "Our vision of a highly- efficient eco-friendly economic zone within a modern industrial system will avoid the discredited policy of "polluting first and then treating", a problem which afflicted previous developments along the Yellow River delta, the Pearl River delta and the Yangtze River delta."
To achieve its dream of clean, environmentally-responsible industrial development, Dongying has invested 110 billion yuan in appropriate technology for its nascent petrochemical, oil equipment manufacturing and modern animal husbandry industries.
This year Dongying city and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, signed a comprehensive cooperation agreement. This will see the construction of a harbor industrial area backed by total investment of 45 billion yuan.
Alongside this, the necessary tourism resources for the Yellow River`s development have also been allocated. The area has now been designated as a national 4A class tourist attraction and has seen 267,000 acres reserved for the fishing industry.
Ready to take off
As part of the series of trade talks taking place between the business and government representatives of both Hong Kong and Shandong province, senior officials from Dongying will be outlining a number of potential joint venture projects earmarked for the YRD area. Representatives from two other cities in the delta region, Zibo and Yantai, will also participate in the July 17 session of talks.
Prior to the formal opening of talks, work has already begun on a number of infrastructure projects in the region. These initiatives, said to involve an investment in excess of 30 billion yuan, involve work on the region`s highways, ports, railways and airport facilities.
In Dongying port, four berths - two suitable for accommodating 30,000 ton vessels and two capable of handling another two 50,000 ton liquid chemical cargo vessels - are already under construction.
With an investment of 900 million yuan, Dongying`s airport is also being enlarged with an aim of achieving an annual throughput of some 10 million passengers. Two international routes - to the Republic of Korea and Japan - are also scheduled to be introduced. On the rail front, two new lines are under construction and will eventually link the YRD with the national high-speed rail network.
Mayor Zhang said: "By 2015, Dongying will have developed a modern eco-efficient industrial system, a significant manufacturing base, a high-tech chemical industry, a regional transport hub and a logistics center, as well as having established itself as a major tourism zone."