Electric vehicle production drives Zhaoqing development
Over 400 years ago, Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), an Italian Jesuit priest, drew the first Chinese map of the world in Zhaoqing city, South China's Guangdong province, and the city now wants to make its mark on the map of the electric vehicle industry.
In February, the city signed an agreement with Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd, the world's leading company in manufacturing power batteries for new energy vehicles, to open a production base in Zhaoqing.
The company's initial investment of 12 billion yuan ($1.9 billion) is the biggest the city ever acquired in manufacturing.
Zhaoqing is the largest city in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, China's new economic hub in a dynamic city cluster in the Pearl River Delta. However, it has the lowest GDP among the 11 cities in the area.
Starting from this low foundation, Zhaoqing discovered development opportunities in certain sectors, especially new energy, which is now opening up a whole new vista for the city's future.
"We will firmly focus on industrial development, especially accelerating the development of the four main industries, including EV and its components' manufacturing," said Lyu Yuyin, the city's mayor, during a news conference on Sunday.
According to statistics provided by the city's government, manufacturing accounts for more than 70 percent of the 505 industrial projects introduced to the city in 2020, and of the total 30 billion yuan ($4.62 billion) actual investment last year, with the EV industry contributing 24 billion yuan.
As the country initiated the Greater Bay Area plan in 2017, Chinese Tesla challenger Xiaopeng motors quickly expanded its commercial layout by investing in construction of an industrial park in Zhaoqing, and within a year, the 600,000-square-meter park was completed.
The park, also the world's first self-built vehicle production base for the company, opened in May last year, and Xiaopeng took only 160 days to make 10,000 EVs, a record in the country's EV manufacturing.
As of March 2021, the company produced over 50,000 EVs, and its third generation EV will be ready to deliver in the next few months.
The rapid development of the new energy industry in Zhaoqing is closely related to the country's ambition to promote sustainable energy production, as it vows carbon neutrality by 2060.
Though the size of its economy is still relatively small compared to other Greater Bay Area cities, in 2020, Zhaoqing's growth rate in GDP and public budget revenue has become one the fastest in the area.
"The government has a clear plan on economic development and they are facilitating both entrepreneurs and companies to promote their projects here. And I bet people will be more surprised in the city's development in the near future," said Zheng Boqu, a businessman who is running a technology company in Zhaoqing.