Blue Economic Zone (BEZ) Executive Summary: Shandong Peninsula Blue Economic Zone, Shandong, China

Introduction of the Blue Economic Zone

The 21th century is the century of the oceans . There is a growing concern on over-exploitation of marine resources all over the world. The marine economy is also increasingly becoming an important development aspect at international, national and regional levels. The Blue Economic Zone (BEZ) is an economic function zone, involving well-developed marine industries such as maritime transportation, fisheries, aquaculture, offshore energy exploration, marine tourism, coastal management, and natural hazard protection. Considering the harmony of economic, cultural, social and ecological development as a precondition, the BEZ is characterized by regional competitive industries, and scientific exploitation of marine resources and effective environmental protection.

The Shandong Peninsula BEZ is established on the base of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Shandong Province in April 2010. The benefits of the BEZ establishment are many and include opportunities for:

  • expanding economic development and safeguarding national strategic security;
  • promoting new economic growth and improving the overall coastal economy layout in China ;
  • promoting coastal ecological protection and sustainable development; and
  • improving international cooperation and deepening China 's coastal opening-up strategy.

The Shandong Peninsula Blue Economic Zone Development Plan (hereinafter referred as 'the Plan') was officially approved by the Chinese State Council on 4th January 2011. As China 's first regional marine economy development strategy, the Plan is a significant national strategy. The regional development extends from the land to the sea with an integrated management approach. The Plan is an important part of the national economic development strategy, and indicates the implementation phase of pilot marine economic development in China.

 Main points of the Plan

Shandong considers its marine economy as its future economic development focal point. The major challenges to this marine economy development are as follows:

  • scientific exploration of marine resources;
  • marine environmental protection and conservation;
  • efficiency and synergy of marine industry structure and layout;
  • marine science R&D and technology transfer; and
  • integrated marine and coastal management.

From 2011-2020, Shandong Peninsular BEZ aims to:

  • build a modern marine industrial system;
  • implement a marine development strategy based on science and education;
  • scientifically explore marine resources;
  • expand international economic and scientific exchange and cooperation; and
  • promote the coordination of urban and rural areas, the interaction of land and sea.

According to the Plan, the BEZ goals are:

  • a modern marine industrial system established by 2015;
  • a significantly strengthened economy (average annual marine GDP growth above 15% by 2015 and above 12% by 2020);
  • an increased marine science and technology innovation capacity (contribution increased to 65% by 2015);
  • an improved land and marine ecology and environment;
  • a well developed BEZ by 2020: GDP per capita CNY 80,000 (AUD$13,333) by 2015, and CNY 130,000 (AUD$ 21,666) by 2020; urbanization level 65% by 2015, and by 70% in 2020.

Geographic areas

The BEZ planning period is 2011-2020. The main development areas include the entire coastal zone of Shandong Province (Fig . 1), along with terrestrial areas of six cities (i .e., Qingdao, Dongying, Yantai, Weifang, Weihai, Rizhao) and two coastal counties of Binzhou City (i.e., Wudi, Zhanhua). The whole BEZ covers a marine area of 15.95 million square kilometers and a terrestrial area of 6.4 million square kilometers in total. Additionally, some other parts of Shandong are also listed as joint planning areas.

Science and technology

Marine science and technology play key roles in the BEZ development. Ocean University of China is the leading force for conducting marine research and training marine scientists and engineers. There are also a large number of marine research institutions within the BEZ, bringing together more than half of China 's marine science and technology research and training infrastructure. These resources are the solid foundation for the building of marine science and technology talent pool, as well as providing the leading force for participation in international cutting-edge marine research.

The Plan also highlights following R&D measures to support the BEZ development:

  • increase the high-tech industry supporting funding;
  • strengthen the marine research platforms;
  • improve marine education system;
  • promote research training in marine sciences, and
  • establish the marine science/technology education and training centre to an international standard.

International cooperation

Shandong Peninsula BEZ considers international cooperation as an essential part of its development strategy. This strategy will be implemented to enhance marine economy exchange and cooperation in various fields, such as marine industries, investment and trade facilitation, and transport logistics. International scientific research projects are greatly encouraged to provide scientific and technical support for the BEZ development.