This year marks the 30th anniversary of the construction of the Xiamen Torch Development Zone for High Technology Industries in Xiamen, East China’s Fujian province.
Over the past three decades, the zone has grown from a test field of less than 1 square kilometer to the current nine sub-areas across the city. Its annual industrial output also increased from 146 million yuan ($22.92 million) to more than 300 billion yuan.
Described as a “special zone within a special zone”, it has made outstanding achievements in the city. While possessing less than 3 percent of the total land in Xiamen, it has contributed to 43 percent of the city’s industrial output, about 70 percent of the revenue of the city’s software and information service industry, as well as nearly half of the city’s industrial fixed-asset investment.
What’s the secret of the zone’s amazing growth?
Intensive high-end industrial clusters
In 1992, Swiss conglomerate ABB Group set up its first operation in the Xiamen Torch High-tech Zone. Since then, eight ABB subsidiaries, as well as two ABB research and development technology centers have settled in the zone.
The ABB Xiamen Hub located in Torch (Xiang’an) Industrial Zone has become the group’s largest innovation and manufacturing center in the world, supplying products to more than 60 countries and regions.
Another example is Taiwan LCD panel maker AU Optronics, which opened a plant in the zone in 2006 and brought in a group of related companies, helping form Xiamen’s first 100-billion-yuan industrial chain of panel displays.
A series of successful cases have resulted from the zone’s efforts to develop pillar industries and enhance their competitiveness.
“The high-tech zone, which has served as a major hub for Xiamen’s high-end manufacturing, software and information industries, has given top priority to attracting investment and expanding industrial chains,” said Zhuang Rongliang, director of the zone’s administrative commission, in an interview with Xiamen Daily.
“We have been working to fulfill our duty as ‘gardeners’ who create fertile ground for business, selecting high-quality ‘seedlings’ and offering abundant ‘nutrients’ to help companies grow into industrial giants,” Zhuang added.
The zone also founded a venture capital fund worth 3 billion yuan in 2020 and brought in three sub-funds within half a year, increasing the total amount to 9.02 billion yuan.
In recent years, the zone has focused on new-generation information technology, artificial intelligence, big data, internet of things, new materials, new energy and digital cultural creativity, aiming to become a hotbed of these emerging industries.
Sound environment with innovative talent
The high-tech zone launched two service platforms for financing and smart manufacturing in October to help companies promote technical reform, as well as to enhance the efficiency of financing, while reduce costs.
“Thanks to the zone’s service platform, companies can learn about preferential policies and choose financial products in a quick manner that’s like shopping in a supermarket,” said Jiang Wei, manager of the finance department of Xiamen Lenz Communication Co, which was recently granted 10 million yuan in credit by Xiamen Bank.
Over the years, the zone has been working to provide targeted services to companies in aspects like personnel, capital and land, aiming to create a sound environment for innovative development.
By 2020, the zone had been home to more than 10,000 businesses, topping all development zones in Fujian province.
About 200,000 people are currently working in the zone, including more than 1,500 who are included in talent programs at the municipal level and above.
Xiamen Torch University, a new talent enhancement initiative of the zone, was established on May 9, aiming to promote innovation and industrial upgrading by closely combining education and research with the actual needs of companies located in the zone.
The university has the potential to not only lift the industrial capability of Xiamen, but spur economic development in other parts of China and even other BRICS economies, said Leslie Maasdorp, vice-president of the Shanghai-based New Development Bank, on the sidelines of the establishment ceremony of Xiamen Torch University.
He said that its experience in nurturing talent and promoting innovation could provide strategies that can be replicated elsewhere, while training materials used here can be shared with other regions in a virtual format.
While celebrating its milestone 30th anniversary, the high-tech zone has set goals for its future development. It aims to become a first-class sci-tech zone with clout in the Asia-Pacific region and a demonstration area for cooperation between BRICS countries in emerging industries by 2035.
It is also expected to build world-class industrial chains in the electronic information industry, as well as become a major platform for exchanges between countries and regions along the Maritime Silk Road.