Quanzhou, a coastal city in south China's Fujian Province, known for its enriched history and vital private economy, has its eye on the future with further ambitions.
Granted the title of World Heritage by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee last year for its historical role as an "emporium of the world in Song-Yuan China" (10th - 14th centuries AD), Quanzhou was once the site of the most important inner port docks of China, connecting the world with the country's inner land.
A world-level port over a thousand years ago
As the starting point of the ancient "Maritime Silk Road", the city has unique geographic advantages. During the Song and Yuan periods, spices, medicines, and other goods were transshipped at Quanzhou between markets on the Chinese inner land.
Therefore, it was also then the most important ship-building base in China and its customs contributed about 2 percent of the annual fiscal income of the Song Dynasty. Marco Polo called Quanzhou, known as Zayton at that time, "one of the two greatest havens in the world for commerce".
Due to the prosperous trade, ancient Quanzhou also attracted people from all over the world and formed a diversified culture. Arabs from afar came in great numbers to Quanzhou and built the Masjidal Ashab Mosque in the port city in 1009 and it remains the oldest Mosque in China.
A thriving modern economy with entrepreneurship
In 2021, Quanzhou became another Chinese city with a GDP exceeding 1,000 billion yuan ($148 billion) – the port city registered a 1,015.9-billion-yuan GDP that year, ranking first in Fujian Province for two decades, while its other major economic indicators such as GDP growth and industrial output have been leading compared with other Chinese cities.
For these achievements, credit should be given to Quanzhou's thriving private economy – after China's reform and opening up in the 1990s, there has been a startup boom thanks to the tradition of doing business. Local entrepreneurs started from scratch with their sharp business acumen and work ethic, making the city a home base for many household brands.
As of October of 2021, there are 109 listed companies in Quanzhou, official data showed.
As a manufacturing powerhouse, Quanzhou has established nine industrial clusters each with a production value of 100 billion yuan, namely textiles and garments, footwear, petrochemicals, machinery and equipment, building materials and home furnishings, artefacts and decorations, paper and printing, electronic information and food and beverages, local media reported last September, quoting data from local authorities.
Official data also showed that textiles and garments from Quanzhou account for 10 percent of China's output; sports shoes made in the city comprise 40 percent of the country's production and 20 percent of the world's. Moreover, 65 percent of China's stone materials come from Quanzhou, as do 40 percent of the world's, the report said.
For the future, the city set its GDP for 2035 at over 2.8 trillion yuan, according to a development plan it unveiled in May last year.
During the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025), the city will strive to maintain the leading position in terms of economic output and make efforts to top the list of national innovative cities, the plan showed.
Quanzhou will ramp up efforts to create a batch of benchmark private enterprises, as it is expected to be home to more than 3,000 private enterprises each with an output value of more than 100 million yuan, and over 10 private enterprises each with an output value of more than 10 billion yuan.
In addition to major pillar industries, Quanzhou will work to develop three new sectors, which are new materials, new energy, and biomedicine, and also speed up the development of five service businesses, digital services, business logistics, cultural tourism, health services, and financial services, according to the city's plan.