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Megaprojects celebrated as city building a bright future

ByZHANG LINWAN (China Daily) Update:2021-07-01

Large-scale construction works get underway and key facilities are opened in Zhanjiang

Zhanjiang, a coastal city in South China's Guangdong province, held a ceremony for the groundbreaking and operation of several megaprojects on Monday. It is hoped the works will hasten the city's development into a regional subcenter of Guangdong, as well as a major development hub along the province's modern coastal economic belt.

A total of 43 projects began construction on Monday, involving capital input worth 61.43 billion yuan ($9.52 billion). Most of them are transport infrastructure facilities, while the rest are related to the high-tech industry, airport economic zone development, higher education, a hospital and the modern service industry.

Among the projects that began construction is a 9.64-kilometer-long undersea tunnel in Zhanjiang Bay, which involves 2.75 billion yuan investment. It is a crucial leg of the Guangzhou-Zhanjiang high-speed railway with a speed limit of 350 km per hour.

Another is the Haidong campus of Guangdong Medical University with a budget set at 2.36 billion yuan, which will be big enough for 11,300 students. Also, there is the city's public health hospital based on Zhanjiang No 3 People's Hospital, which will cost 466.49 million yuan for construction.

Among the projects that opened is the 9.36-km-long Tiaoshun cross-sea bridge, which cost 2.47 billion yuan. The 26.72-km-long Wuchuan section of the Shantou-Zhanjiang Expressway with an investment of 2.94 billion yuan was put into service on the following day.

The projects represent a gift to the Communist Party of China ahead of the 100th anniversary of its founding. They will also help to solidify the foundation of the city's development in the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), local officials said.

"Zhanjiang is going all out to turn itself into a regional subcenter of Guangdong and a major development point of the modern coastal economic belt," Cao Xing, executive vice-mayor of the city, said at the ceremony.


A helicopter flies over a cross-sea bridge in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province. CHINA DAILY

Liu Hongbing, the new Party secretary of Zhanjiang, announced the start of the operation and construction of the projects that day.

In recent years, the city has prioritized the development of the port-based industry, coastal tourism, special and advantageous agriculture, and the sector related to military-civilian integration in its strategy to boost high-quality economic and social development.

Official data showed Zhanjiang's GDP rose by 5 percent on an annual basis during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), and reached 310.02 billion yuan last year.

The added value of industrial enterprises above designated size-those with an annual revenue of 20 million yuan or more-came in at 63.99 billion yuan in 2020. Investments in fixed assets have exceeded 100 billion yuan for five consecutive years.

"The provincial government has given strong support for Zhanjiang's development, so we must seize the opportunity and make progress," Zeng Jinze, mayor of Zhanjiang, said at a meeting in April.

Over the coming years, Zhanjiang will strive to reinforce its position as a national transportation hub. It comes on the back of ongoing projects, such as the Guangzhou-Zhanjiang high-speed railway and Zhanjiang Wuchuan Airport.

A comprehensive transport system, involving ports, railways and aviation, will lay a solid foundation for the city's economic growth, said local officials.

Zhanjiang also plans to establish regional centers for innovation, finance, healthcare, business and trade, and culture and education in a bid to enhance its ability to offer multiple urban services.

Local authorities said the city has built Zhanjiang Economic and Technological Development Zone, Haidong New Area and several major research platforms. These will play a critical role in promoting the construction of an innovation center.

In addition, Zhanjiang is home to six universities and polytechnics with more than 130,000 students in total, paving the way to build a center of culture and education.

As a port city, Zhanjiang seeks to increase its ties with the free trade port in South China's Hainan province to boost its marine industries such as marine transportation and ocean energy exploration.

Meanwhile, the two regions will step up cooperation in the modern service industry. Together, they will build an array of tourism attractions and resorts. Zhanjiang also intends to set up a base to offer vegetables and other agricultural products to Hainan.

It will forge ahead with reforms and further expand opening-up in the future to provide a vital backup to the country's dual circulation development pattern, according to the city government.