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People's Daily Online>>China Business

China's "blue economy" takes off as marine industry transforms, upgrades

(Xinhua)

10:35, January 08, 2012

JINAN, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- The coastal city of Rongcheng in east China's Shandong Province is known as China's "land of kelp" -- producing nearly half of the country's sea tangle. The plant was mainly used for extracting cheap industrial iodine only a few years ago, when a local company saw new possibilities in the seaweed.

In 2008, Shandong Haizhibao Ocean Science & Technology Co., Ltd. introduced seeds from Japan and cultivated a new type of kelp that is thinner, shorter and more appetizing, using it to produce organic "green food" such as noodles and beverages.

The company's sales revenues have since increased tenfold, with products being exported to overseas markets such as Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States.

The development of Rongcheng's kelp industry is a prime example of how Shandong's "blue economy" development strategy has allowed the province to take advantage of its numerous marine resources to build up its economy.

In April 2010, the State Council, or China's cabinet, approved the establishment of the Shandong Peninsula Blue Economic Zone as one of three pilot zones for the development of China's marine economy.

The economic zone covers 159,500 square km of offshore waters and 64,000 square km of land in six cities and two coastal counties. A development plan for the economic zone was approved by the State Council in early 2011 as part of China's national development strategy. According to the plan, the Shandong provincial government will coordinate the development of its land and marine economies and strengthen exploration, especially in emerging marine industries.

One year after the plan was approved, Shandong has made significant achievements and become a national leader in exploring seaside economics.

According to Zhang Chaochao, director of the Shandong Provincial Development and Reform Commission, the economic zone has earmarked 14 sectors for improved development, including fishing, marine equipment manufacturing and marine eco-protection.

In the meantime, Shandong will push for the development of emerging marine industries in the fields of biology, new energy and new materials, Zhang said.

Marine-related companies in coastal cities like Qingdao, Yantai and Weihai are taking advantage of the plan to expand their business or upgrade their services.

The Qingdao-based Bright Moon Seaweed Group has gone from being an iodine producer and seaweed processing plant to a modern company with a variety of products such as food additives, cosmetics, non-woven fabrics and medical supplies.

"Our products have been continuously upgraded. There is a bright future for the utilization of seaweed," said Li Kechang, technical director of the company.

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