Xiamen wants to become China's Miami

Updated: 2011-11-22 10:05

By Zhao Chunzhe (chinadaily.com.cn)

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Xiamen was named the most civilized city in China, but its top planner hopes to see the city grow into the Miami of the Orient.

Xiamen wants to become China's Miami

People play on a beach in Xiamen, Fujian province, on Nov 16, 2011. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]

"Xiamen and Miami are at the same altitude, and I believe Xiamen has the potential to be a global tourist destination like Miami," Zhao Yanjing, chief of Xiamen City Plan Bureau, said at the city’s 30th anniversary as a special economic zone (SEZ).

In 1981, Xiamen, then a small fishing village neighboring Taiwan across the Taiwan Straits, was approved by the State Council as one of the four SEZ cities to pilot reform and opening-up initiatives.

Xiamen SEZ was established for its geographical proximity to Taiwan. Many Taiwan residents originate from Xiamen.

"People in Xiamen and Taiwan speak the same language. We value the same cultural traditions. That’s why we attract so many Taiwan businesses," Zhao said.

The GDP per capita of Xiamen nears $17,000, while the country’s average is at $2,348. One-third of the city’s $23 billion in overseas funds are from Taiwan.

"I hope to bring in more brilliant Taiwan city planners to Xiamen. They now have problems qualifying to work on the Chinese mainland. We need to reform the system to bring in the talent," Zhao said.

Zhao said Xiamen is moving toward building a regional financial center on the west bank of the Strait to attract more business headquarters and financial service sectors.

Xiamen plays a key role in the development of the west-Strait economic zone. The city will further merge with nearby Zhangzhou and Quanzhou to become more competitive as a regional economic power, Zhao said.

The economic "golden triangle" connects the cities within one hour to pave the way for an expected large-scale economy.

Xiamen is made up of Xiamen Island and four other satellite islands, with an area of 1,573 square meters, double the land area of Singapore.

The local government has moved out of the main island, and many factories are encouraged to move to other islands to make the city more livable.

"We leave the best places to people. We try to maintain a balance between fast economic growth and green living conditions," Zhao said.

The city has been transformed into a manufacturing center and a hub to develop relations with Taiwan. Planners are also working on its future as a logistics center, finance and trade center, tourist destination, conference center and shopping island.

"Many rich people go to Hong Kong or Shanghai to buy luxuries. We will offer Xiamen as a new choice for them," Zhao said.

"Xiamen will never rest on its achievements. We are working to make it more innovative, happy, safe, civilized and livable during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015)," Zhao added.

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