Guangdong's Zhanjiang targets doubling of GDP by 2017

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2013, 5:21am

An underdeveloped port city in Guangdong has vowed to double its gross domestic product by 2017 and triple its size within five years.

It will achieve this largely by speeding up construction on one of the world's largest petrochemical plants, finishing it by 2015 amid environmental concerns.

Zhanjiang officials also plan to accelerate construction on a steel hub and a second airport, as well as extend the city's highway network and build a high-speed railway.

Speaking at a press conference on the sidelines of the Guangdong provincial People's Congress's plenary session yesterday, Zhanjiang Mayor Wang Zhongbing said the city must strive to bring its GDP growth on par with the national average, as quickly as possible.

"This is a new target set by [Guangdong party] secretary Hu Chunhua during an earlier visit," Wang said. "With steel and petrochemical projects that will be completed in five years, our GDP will be doubled."

The city's GDP last year stood at 190 billion yuan (HK$234 billion), according to Zhanjiang's 2013 government work report.

Wang said that construction on the main section of the Sino-Kuwait petrochemical plant would begin in June.

The controversial oil refinery was relocated from Nansha district, Guangzhou, to Zhanjiang's Donghai Island in 2009 amid fierce opposition from delta and Hong Kong residents who feared its pollution effects. The US$9 billion joint venture with the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation and Sinopec is expected to be completed this year, with an output of 15 million tonnes of oil a year and 800,000 tonnes of ethylene, a chemical used in making plastics.

Zhanjiang is also picking up the pace on a giant steel hub project that was approved by the state in May.

Professor He Guowei, with Guangzhou University's environmental science and engineering department, said the numerous projects had raised more than just environmental concerns, with the threat of turning the beautiful coastal city into another notoriously polluted industrial city on the mainland, similar to Anshan in Liaoning , Panzhihua in Sichuan and Tongling in Anhui province.

"It's very scary to see so many massive infrastructure projects being rushed to completion in such a short time," He said. "It's going to come at the cost of our environment in just a few years,

"We could soon bid farewell to Zhanjiang's seafood."