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Shandong powers ahead economically

By ZHAO RUIXUE in Jinan China Daily Updated: 2022-07-29

Editor's note: China has seen tremendous changes nationwide, from economic growth to environmental protection, from social improvement to cultural progress. In this series, China Daily maps the changes and tells the stories of the people who lived through them.

A container ship sails into the Qingdao Port on June 2, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

Province's growth attributed to innovation, forward-thinking

Fifty cold-chain trucks powered by hydrogen fuel cells took to roads early this month in Zibo, Shandong, as the province took another step toward using the clean energy resource.

All of the fuel cells in question use proton exchange membranes developed by Shandong Dongyue Future Hydrogen Energy Material, a company based in Zibo focused on new energy material innovation and development.

The membrane is a core component of the fuel cell. Powered by hydrogen, the fuel cells convert chemical energy into electricity via a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen ions produced by the reaction pass through the proton exchange membrane, forming a loop with the electrons and creating electricity.

According to Dongyue, the company spent 16 years developing the proton exchange membrane and is now one of the few in the world to have mastered the ability to develop and produce the material.

 

The world's first 600-kilometer-per-hour high-speed maglev train system is launched in Qingdao, Shandong province, in July last year. [Photo/Xinhua]

Since going into production in 2020, the company now has the ability to turn out about 1.5 million square meters of proton exchange membranes every year.

This new energy material project is the epitome of the province's efforts over the past decade to pursue innovation-driven, high-quality development.

During his three visits to Shandong over the past decade, President Xi Jinping encouraged the province to promote innovation-driven development and use it to take the lead in enhancing its socioeconomic development.

Shandong has been busy putting Xi's instructions to work. The province has been upgrading its heavy industries and making efforts to promote innovative industries. It has also been transforming traditional industries such as heavily polluting chemical factories and coal-fired power plants into ones that are efficient and environmentally friendly.

Since 2018 in particular, Shandong has been phasing out outdated production and has upgraded five key industrial sectors including chemicals, agriculture, finance and tourism.

 

An Oriental stork flies to its nest on a pole at the Yellow River Delta National Nature Reserve in Dongying, Shandong. [Photo by YANG BIN/FOR CHINA DAILY]

It has also fostered emerging industries, among them the new generation of information technology, high-end equipment, new energy and new materials, and medical and elderly care sectors.

Shandong has made a breakthrough in replacing old drivers of growth with new, Li Ganjie, secretary of the Communist Party of China Shandong Provincial Committee, said as he delivered a report to the 12th CPC Shandong Provincial Congress in May.

There were more than 20,400 high-tech enterprises in Shandong last year, 7.9 times more than in 2012. Additionally, the production value of these businesses accounted for 46.8 percent of the province's total manufacturing production value, a 17-percentage increase from 2012, according to the local government.

The province helped create 13 provincial-level competitive industrial clusters by last year, including clusters dedicated to new energy materials, information technology and marine equipment, by creating complete industrial chains and fostering a comprehensive, rules-based business environment that covers companies, institutes, financial bodies and other service agencies, rather than simply supporting a handful of leading companies.

 

An aerial view of downtown Jinan, Shandong. [Provided to China Daily]

These new drivers of growth have made it possible for Shandong to maintain economic growth even in the face of a complicated or challenging domestic or international environment for development, said Cui Jianhai, spokesman for the Shandong government.

The province's GDP reached 8.31 trillion yuan ($1.23 trillion) last year, a year-on-year increase of 8.3 percent.

And in the first half of this year, GDP amounted to 4.17 trillion yuan, up 3.6 percent year-on-year.

"It's not easy to make these kinds of achievements," said Cui, adding that so far this year, Shandong has taken coordinated steps to respond to the COVID-19 epidemic and to pursue socioeconomic development.

Foreign trade

Shandong's effort to cultivate new drivers of growth has also attracted foreign investment. The province saw foreign trade volume surge to 2.93 trillion yuan last year, an increase of 89 percent compared to that a decade ago, according to the local government.

 

An aerial view of downtown Jinan, Shandong. [Provided to China Daily]

In addition, as a proportion of the national total, the province's foreign trade rose from 6.4 percent in 2012 to 7.5 percent last year.

The 12th CPC Shandong Provincial Congress emphasized that the province would deepen reform and opening-up to remove institutional obstacles that restrict development, as well as work to create a new highland for opening-up and enhance the vitality of high-quality development.

The third Qingdao Multinationals Summit in June demonstrated the province's determination to turn itself into that highland. The move is also part of the province's efforts to integrate into the new national development paradigm of "dual-circulation", which relies on the domestic market as its mainstay while allowing both the domestic and the overseas markets to mutually reinforce each other.

At the summit, Shandong sealed foreign investment deals for 99 projects worth $15.6 billion with companies from 16 countries and regions. The projects are mainly in the fields of high-end equipment and chemicals, new energy, new materials, information technology, finance, marine development, agriculture and assorted services.

Denis Depoux, global managing director of global consultancy Roland Berger, told the summit that Shandong has made persistent efforts to deepen the reform and opening-up of key areas to improve its business environment, which is meaningful for business development in the province.