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Print Edition> Business
UPDATED: July 25, 2011 NO. 30 JULY 28, 2011
Pearl of the New Marine Economy
The Zhoushan Archipelago will use its location by the sea to break into a new economy

GROWTH ENGINE: A bird's eye view of Shengsi County under Zhoushan's administration. The islands of the Zhoushan Archipelago are expected to enkindle new growth in Zhejiang Province in east China (JU HUANGZONG)

The Zhoushan Archipelago in east China's Zhejiang Province, which consists of 1,390 islands, won approval to build a state-level new area and develop the marine economy.

The new area is China's fourth development area to receive state-level policy support to allocate resources and attract investment, next to the Pudong New Area of Shanghai, Binhai New Area of Tianjin and Liangjiang New Area of Chongqing.

But it is China's first state-level development area oriented toward the marine economy, said Lu Zushan, Governor of Zhejiang Province.

The Zhoushan Archipelago, located at the juncture of China's eastern coastline, has an ideal location, marine resources and industrial strengths working to its advantage.

The Zhoushan new area is expected to inject new steam into Zhejiang, one of China's major manufacturing powerhouses in the Yangtze River Delta, while assisting development of China's marine economy and deploying its overall strategies for regional development, Lu said.

National importance

The blueprint for the Zhoushan new area got approval from the State Council in less than 18 months, while the previous one, the Liangjiang New Area, took two years. The contrast reflects the imperative need for China to shift focus from its populous land to the sea for future growth, said Yi Peng, a researcher on China's regional economy at Peking University, in an article for China Business Journal.

China now has only 280,000 square km available for future industrial development, or 3 percent of its total land area, said a development plan of national major functional regions released by the State Council in June 2011. In contrast, China has a vast sea of abundance that stands at more than 3 million square km.

The State Council on March 1, 2011 approved the development plan of Zhejiang Marine Economic Zone, of which the Zhoushan new area is a key component. Previous to that, it approved a similar plan on the Shandong Peninsula on the north coast on January 4, 2011 and will have a third one in Guangdong Province on the south coast.

"By then, China will rely on the three demonstration zones to implement its national strategy of building up a competent marine economy," Yi said.

Industrial output of Zhejiang's marine sector stood at 280.9 billion yuan ($43.2 billion) in 2009. The demonstration zone is expected to yield 700 billion yuan ($107.7 billion) by 2015, accounting for 16 percent of Zhejiang's GDP and 15 percent of national marine industrial output, according to the blueprint.

And Guangdong, China's manufacturing hub, is also eyeing at a similar project to push forward its efforts of economic restructuring. At present, the marine sector contributes to nearly 20 percent of Guangzhou's GDP, said Fan Hengshan, Director of the Regional Economy Division under the National Development and Reform Commission.

The winner

Zhoushan sets itself apart from competitors as it strives to achieve the national title of marine economy demonstration area, said Lu. With a population of 1 million, Zhoushan is China's only county-level administrative city established on a series of islands. With a land area of 1,440 square km, it covers 20,800 square km of inland sea.

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