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Shandong frontier of NE Asian development and cooperation

By Xie Chuanjiao in Qingdao, Shandong | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-10-18 17:27

A research institute backed by the School of International Trade and Economics at Shandong University of Finance and Economics was officially unveiled on Thursday in Qingdao, Shandong province. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

China's eastern Shandong province is expected to be a new frontier in the development of Northeast Asia and explore new high-quality opening-up experiences, according to an expert at a high-end forum on Thursday.

The views were explored in the context of establishment of the China (Shandong) Pilot Free Trade Zone, which is among six new FTZs unveiled in late August.

Shandong, birthplace of Confucius, is one of the economic powerhouses in the country's coastal areas, with a GDP surpassing 4 trillion yuan ($560 billion) in the first half of this year, ranking third place after Guangdong and Jiangsu provinces. However, the province has faced a problem with lagging economic drive in the past.

Zhao Zhongxiu, president of the Shandong University of Finance and Economics, said the FTZ in Shandong should focus on institutional innovation and find its unique way of high-quality economic growth, with its optimized geographic position and abundant sources.

"The province should take this opportunity of FTZs to become more involved in China-Japan-South Korean regional economic cooperation, as well as the Belt and Road Initiative, and play a bigger role in improving exchanges of capital, technology, talent and information between east and west," said Zhao on the sidelines of the High-Level Forum of Shandong Pilot Free Trade Zone Development Strategy in Qingdao, a coastal city in Shandong.

The forum invited officials and scholars from across the country to discuss how to build high-quality pilot trade zones.

Zhao said that Shandong could also explore more economic integration of Northeast Asia by joining hands with Liaoning and Heilongjiang FTZs, and play a more active role in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Integration Plan and Yangtze River Delta region.

Shandong also needs to put more effort into the innovation of marine sectors, as the province boasts first-class research facilities and top-notch talents in those sectors, Zhao added.

During the forum, a research institute backed by the School of International Trade and Economics at Shandong University of Finance and Economics was officially unveiled.

Zhao said that the research institute would focus on areas including big data in FTZs, financial reform and innovation at FTZs, policy assessment and talent training.

Covering a total area of 120 square kilometers, the Shandong FTZ consists of three parts in Jinan, Qingdao and Yantai.

With three to five years' reform trials, the Shandong FTZ is set to develop into a high-level and high-quality zone with features including convenient access to trade and investment, sound financial services and driving development in surrounding areas, Ren Airong, vice-governor of Shandong, said at a press conference held at the end of August.

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