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Zhanjiang courting industry, but retains passion for nature

2013-07-22 09:54 China Daily Web Editor: qindexing
Liu Xiaohua (second, left), Party chief of Zhanjiang, and Mayor Wang Zhongbing (first, right) together with other officials convene the China (Guangdong)-ASEAN Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention held in Zhanjiang in April. Zou Zhongpin / China Daily

Liu Xiaohua (second, left), Party chief of Zhanjiang, and Mayor Wang Zhongbing (first, right) together with other officials convene the China (Guangdong)-ASEAN Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention held in Zhanjiang in April. Zou Zhongpin / China Daily

Guangdong island home to new 'circular' steel and petrochemical facilities

An unprecedented recycling experiment is being staged on Donghai Island, where two mega petrochemical and steel projects are expected to achieve minimum emissions by combusting each other's waste and applying the most stringent standards.

Mayor Wang Zhongbing said Zhanjiang is teaming up with State-owned conglomerates Sinopec and Baosteel Group to implement innovations and ensure that the coastal city's high-octane growth will not compromise its enviable environment.

Moving to usher in a new era of the circular economy, city planners and engineers are working on a breakthrough that turns the waste and other byproducts from one industry into the raw materials and energy for another, said the mayor.

Zhanjiang is about 400 kilometers southwest of the provincial capital Guangzhou. Compared with the prosperous Pearl River Delta, Zhanjiang is outside the delta region and strikingly less developed, ranking only 16th among cities in the province in per capita GDP last year.

Though designated as one of China's 14 coastal cities open to overseas investment as early as in 1984, Zhanjiang's per capita GDP was just 69 percent of the country's average last year, according to local statistics bureau sources.

Construction on the two massive harbor projects kicked off last month. They are expected to help bring GDP growth in the Chinese mainland's southernmost city on par with the national average by 2016, Wang told China Daily.

"Upon the completion of these projects by 2016, residents and tourists will still be able to relish pollution-free seafood on Zhanjiang's clean beaches under blue skies - this is our goal," the mayor said.

"I'm confident we can do that."

The two gigantic plants, with a target capacity of 10 million and 20 million tons respectively, are being built only 500 meters apart on Donghai Island, Wang said. The island is China's seventh largest and Guangdong's biggest, stretching across 286 square kilometers on the South China Sea.

Among the many ambitious efforts is a technique that will use hydrogen extracted from coke oven gas at the steel and iron mill to fuel the petrochemical plant, the mayor said.

The two facilities will also share power and gas infrastructure, with steam and water pipe networks and contingency plans complementing each other, he said.

Because it is a pilot project, "there is no experience and expertise that we can borrow to develop a circular economy based on the integrated development of petrochemical and steel industries," Mayor Wang said.

"We hope the pilot project, however challenging it may be, will synchronize with the construction speed of the two giant plants," he said.

With a "scientific development outlook" emphasizing balance between growth and environment deeply rooted in the mind of city officials, Wang said Zhanjiang is ready to present a snapshot of an "upgraded Chinese economy".

'Green manufacturing'

"We have to pull out of three decades of stagnation as soon as possible through bolder reform and intensified opening-up, especially through securing and developing large industrial projects," Wang said.

"But what we pursue is green steel plants and green manufacturing - we need both rapid economic growth and clean water and air."

The coveted steel and petrochemical deals, plus a paper-making development, are expected to generate an output of 250 billion yuan ($39.1 billion) by 2016, according to the Zhanjiang Development and Reform Bureau.

The city's GDP last year stood at 190 billion yuan, the bureau sources said.

"So our GDP will be doubled around 2016. We won't lag behind the national level," he said.

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