Dalian, a major seaport in northern China, has successfully transformed itself from a centre of heavy industry to a modern city focusing on services, while improving its environment and quality of life.
With a population of 6.17 million and an area of 13,237 square kilometres, Dalian is the second-largest city in Liaoning province after Shenyang. Strategically located at the south of the Liaodong Peninsula, it was occupied by Russia and Japan from 1895 to 1945. After it was returned to China in 1949, the city developed into one of the country's major heavy industry and shipbuilding centres.
Things have changed over the past decade in line with the policy of revitalising old industries in northern China. Dalian has achieved faster economic growth by developing new industries.
Dalian's gross domestic product has been growing at an annual rate of 16.3 per cent over the past five years. GDP reached 515.81 billion yuan (HK$630 billion) last year, up 15.2 per cent, with per capita income averaging 73,134 yuan. The per capita disposable income of urban residents averaged 21,293 yuan, up 12 per cent.
Built on its solid foundation in heavy industries, the city's four pillar industries are petrochemicals, electronics information and software, equipment manufacturing, and shipbuilding.
In recent years, Dalian has put efforts into the development of modern service industries, especially in the areas of research and development, innovation incubation, and science and technology innovation. The industry now has more than 2,000 companies and institutions with a total value of 100 billion yuan.
Dalian has been recognised by the Ministry of Science and Technology as the 'Industrialised Base for National Modern Services Industry'. It has also become one of China's leading providers of software outsourcing.
With its picturesque coastal area, Dalian is also known for its natural beauty and providing a better quality of life for its people. Over the past five years, the city has spent 80.16 billion yuan on livelihood-related projects. It has set a target to achieve an afforestation rate of 45.1 per cent in the urban area by 2020.
Last month, the city inaugurated the Dalian Best (biodiverse emerging science technology) City project to foster the growth of enterprises related to the science, technologies and innovations in areas of environmental protection. The project will play a leading role in the city's green movement in the coming years.
The quality of life in Dalian can also be reflected by the city's booming fashion industry, and the success of Dalian Fashion Week has made the city one of the mainland's stylish garment centres.