Qingdao’s Xihai’an New Area drives maritime economy with technological innovation

Photo taken on June 7, 2019 shows beautiful scenery of Xihai'an (West Coast) New Area of Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province. Photo by Han Jiajun, People's Daily Online

Xihai’an (West Coast) New Area of Qingdao, east China’s Shandong Province, as a state-level economic development zone that bears significant missions to develop and exploit the seas and oceans, has attracted a series of top-notch maritime scientific institutions, talents and other factors.

It has built a market-oriented maritime scientific innovation system with enterprises as the core that closely combines government, enterprises, universities, and research institutions. Focusing on fostering new drivers of the blue economy, the new area is expected to see more robust maritime economy.

In a showroom of the Bright Moon Seaweed Group Co., Ltd. based in Xihai’an New Area, noodles, crisps, beverages, skin care products, as well as bio-fertilizers made from seaweeds are exhibited. “By extracting active substances from the seaweeds and after deep processing, we have turned seaweeds, as common as grass on the land, into valuable stuff,” said Li Kechang, president of the company.

According to Sun Yonghong, an official of the working committee of the Xihai’an New Area, the new area has made a three-year plan and rolled out 16 forceful measures to reinforce its maritime industry.

The University of Chinese Academy of Sciences has just constructed a new campus for its College of Marine Science in Xihai’an New Area. So far it has cooperated with 13 units and made over 300 maritime scientific achievements. Now it is working closely with enterprises to put these achievements into use.

“Decoding marine organisms to better benefit the mankind” is how Liu Shanshan, executive president of BGI-Qingdao, a research branch of the world’s largest genome research organization BGI Group, describes their job. “We are currently working on the researches of the growth, evolution, active substances, and biodiversity of marine organisms, so as to produce internationally influential results, as well as new technologies and industries,” she told People’s Daily.

In the Qingdao Ship Science and Technology Park of Harbin Engineering University, a number of cutting-edge technologies are being applied to serve industries, such as dynamic positioning and crankshafts for large ship diesel engines. Six years ago, the land where the park now locates was still a mud flat, but today it has gathered 24 marine technology research centers, 17 innovation and entrepreneur platforms, over 600 scientific personnel and 155 tech firms.

“Introducing a batch of experts and making a breakthrough in a key technology might drive the growth of an industry,” said Liu Wei, an official with the Guzhenkou Military and Civil Integration Innovation Demonstration Zone in Xihai’an New Area. The demonstration zone has formed an industry cluster of high-tech ships, marine information, ocean engineering equipment, and marine new materials, he added.

Offshore Oil Engineering (Qingdao) Co., Ltd., through independent R&D and innovation, has made many bests regarding offshore petroleum engineering equipment. Last year, it delivered the world’s largest floating production and storage and offloading equipment to the owner in Brazil. “This year, while ensuring strict epidemic prevention and control, we carried out production at full capacity,” said Ji Guangxue, manager of the company’s marketing department.

The maritime economy of Xihai’an New Area has grown from 49.1 billion yuan ($7.31 billion) in 2013 to 130.25 billion yuan last year, with an average annual growth of 17.6 percent. Maritime economy accounted for 36.6 percent of the area’s GDP, up from 21.8 percent.

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