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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

BUSY PORT: Fishing boats are docked at Shenjiamen Port of Zhoushan, China's largest fishery production and processing base, and largest fishing product export center (TAN JIN)

"Location is the archipelago's unique advantage when it comes to developing the marine economy, because it marks the shortest route to the ocean within China's territory," Lu said.

As to its rich marine resources, the archipelago boasts a 280-km-long deep water coastline, taking up 18.4 percent of the country's total. Of the total, more than 100 km run deeper than 20 meters, which is ideal for Zhejiang to forge a large port comparable to Shanghai. In addition, Zhejiang has nearly 3,000 islands, which account for 40 percent of China's total.

The third advantage lies with Zhoushan's full-dimension marine industry supported by port logistics, coastal industries, marine tourism and fisheries, which stands at 68 percent of its GDP, Lu said.

Zhoushan is China's largest fishery production and processing base and largest fishing product exporter. And the merger between the ports at Zhoushan and Ningbo of Zhejiang turned Ningbo-Zhoushan Port into one of the world's largest in terms of throughput, which reached 630 million tons last year, said Lu.

The blueprint

With these advantages, the new area will be fostered into a trade center for storing, transporting and processing bulk commodities. It will become an important gateway on the eastern seaboard, a comprehensive demonstration zone for island protection and development, a modern ocean industrial base, and a pilot region for integrating land and sea resources, according to the development plan.

One key component of the development plan concerns innovation, specifically how to set up an institutional infrastructure that will help make that blueprint a reality, Lu said.

Institutional innovation will take place in at least four areas such as opening up inland sea and islands within its administration, fundraising for related development projects, attracting professional talent and effective administration, said Lu.

"We are thinking of ways to avail ourselves of direct financing, take advantage of Zhejiang's rich private capital and allow the private sector to play an active role in related investments," he said.

Zhejiang is reputed for its strong private economy. The province's private capital should be encouraged to enjoy a piece of the Zhoushan cake by investing in port logistics, large commodity storage and transportation, shipbuilding and marine engineering, creating win-win results, Yi said.

Zhang said the output of Zhejiang's marine sector stood at 350 billion yuan ($53.8 billion) in 2010, which came mostly from Zhejiang's powerful private economy.

"There will be barely any barriers preventing private capital from investing in Zhejiang's marine sector," Zhang said, adding the shipyards in Ningbo and Zhoushan are all privately owned and operated.

Liang Liming, Secretary of the Zhoushan Committee of the Communist Party of China, pointed out the importance of different development strategies for these scattered islands. Major projects will be carried out on the largest island, where the Zhoushan Municipal Government is seated, and islands nearby, while the remaining islands will focus on tourism, advanced manufacturing or clean energy, in line with their individual advantages, Liang said.

"We expect the new area to play a pioneering role in the province's endeavor to explore marine resources in a comprehensive way, develop its marine economy and become a new growth engine in the Yangtze River Delta," said Lu.

Zhejiang needs to forge a brand of Chinese characteristics for the Zhoushan new area because it will serve as a demonstration platform for China's efforts to shift from a land-oriented to an ocean-oriented economy, Yi said.

In its pursuit to establish a trade center, Zhoushan should model itself after London to have a shipping index, offer boat charter, rental and leasing services, and provide related economic information instead of pursuing only the largest throughput volume, Yi said.

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