Growing Jiangsu hub exploits proximity, relation to Shanghai

Updated: 2017-05-19

  City seizes and supports vast opportunities from nearby financial metropolis, Zhao Shijun reports.

  Nantong, the city in Jiangsu province located at the estuary of the Yangtze Rivers, wants to better integrate with its neighbor Shanghai to become a "northern gateway" to this economic powerhouse of China, according to local officials.

  During this year's sessions of the city's People's Congress and the People's Political Consultative Conference held in February, Lu Zhipeng, Party chief of Nantong, said the city should cooperate closely with Shanghai, using the southern neighbor's resources to boost Nantong's growth.

  He especially emphasized the use of Shanghai's innovative resources to make Nantong a recipient of technologies incubated in Shanghai.

  "For Nantong to become the northern gateway of Shanghai, the aspects of interconnectivity, economic complements, coordinated industrial development and joint efforts in ecological protection are crucial," said the Party chief.

  The Nantong city government recently released an overall plan for building Nantong into the northern gateway of Shanghai to echo the nation's and Jiangsu's requirements for regional integration in the Yangtze River Delta.

  To play a more important role in the regional integration, in the plan Nantong highlights the construction of "three ports, three urban areas and three bases".

  According to Lu, the three ports refer to Nantong Port, Xingdong International Airport and a "cyberport" cluster of internet-based businesses.

  Transport hub

  Nantong was one of the nation's first cities to open to the world, partly because of the deepwater river port at the north of the Yangtze estuary.

  Nantong Port is a strategic port in China. It is the port used by ocean-going vessels entering the Yangtze River, a golden waterway that links China's east and west.

  Since being approved by the central government to open to foreign vessels in 1982, the port has established business links with more than 300 foreign ports.

  The port is near the Yellow Sea and East China Sea, so it has good connections with the nation's major seaports.

  Through the Yangtze River and its major tributaries, the port is a land-sea transshipment hub linking inland regions including Jiangsu, Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Chongqing, Sichuan, Shaanxi and Guizhou.

  Nantong Port has a total of 289 berths and three deepwater channels that can accommodate vessels of more than 50,000 metric tons.

  The port handled 226 million tons of bulk cargo and 826,900 containers in 2016.

  According to Lu, Nantong Port will focus on container shipment in the years to come to make it an important transshipment port for Shanghai's container terminals. Container throughput in Nantong Port is projected to reach 2 million twenty-foot-equivalent units in 2020.

  Nantong is only about 100 kilometers from Shanghai and the two cities have shared a close relationship in port integration for more than a decade.

  In 2005, the port authorities of Nantong and Shanghai signed an agreement for allround cooperation, making Nantong Port a part of Shanghai's international shipping hub.

  Since then, the two ports have further expanded their cooperation through investments and improved connectivity by building highways and railways.

  According to Lu, the connectivity between Nantong and Shanghai will be further improved through building one of East China's key "cyberports" in Nantong and expanding the Xingdong International Airport, which will serve Nantong, Shanghai and other neighboring regions.

  To prepare to receive high-end industries incubated in Shanghai and improve local business and living environments, the city is planning new urban zoning, according to Lu.

  Three urban areas

  Three urban areas are planned for different functions in living, business and ecology. These include the central district of Nantong, the Tongzhou Bay port industry zone and the Yangtze estuary ecological zone.

  The Tongzhou Bay area will focus on such industries as port transportation, logistics, technology, e-commerce, advanced manufacturing, new energies and new materials, as well as education and research.

  According to Lu, the Tongzhou Bay area is an industrial base supporting Shanghai's position as a global high-tech innovation hub.

  "Many of the technological achievements incubated by Shanghai's research and development entities will be transferred into productivity in the Tongzhou Bay area," Lu said.

  To date, Shanghai's tech companies have invested in more than 80 projects in Tongzhou Bay, with total investment of about 15 billion yuan ($2.18 billion).

  The Yangtze estuary in Nantong is regarded as an ecological shield of the region, so only eco-friendly industries like healthcare, agriculture and tourism will be allowed in the area, according to Lu.

  "Shanghai and Nantong, on the southern and northern sides of the Yangtze estuary, share the same responsibility to protect the region's environment," Lu said.

  While Shanghai is building Chongming Island - China's third-largest island - into a world-class eco-tourism area at the mouth of the Yangtze River, Nantong has also set aside 150 square kilometers of land on the northern side of the river to build an eco-tourism zone.

  An eco-friendly healthcare base will be a key industrial development at the Yangtze estuary, highlighting such sectors as R&D, medical services, medical equipment and biomedicine.

  In addition to building three ports and three urban areas, Nantong also plans to develop three bases.

  According to Lu, the three bases refer to a modern manufacturing and service base, a tourism and relaxation base and a high-quality farm produce supply base.

  "The three bases all relate to Shanghai," Lu said. "We use the three bases to offer various opportunities for Shanghai's industrial investors, to welcome Shanghai's tourists and to supply reliable food to Shanghai's residents."

  Nantong is one of the fastest-growing economies in Jiangsu province as well as in the whole country.

  According to the city's statistics bureau, Nantong's GDP reached 676.8 billion yuan last year, growing 65.5 percent from 2011. Local GDP accounted for 8.9 percent of Jiangsu's total, compared with the ratio of 8.3 percent in 2011.

  Nantong ranked No 21 among the country's large and medium-sized cities in 2016 in terms of GDP, up six places from 2011.

  Nantong's foreign trade amounted to 203.53 billion yuan last year, ranking fourth in Jiangsu.

  Actual foreign investment in the city totaled $2.68 billion in 2016, ranking No 4 in the province.

  Source: China Daily

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