Located in the center of a golden triangle formed by the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta and Taiwan, Xiamen looks set to assume a big role in the country's development map.
As President Xi Jinping said in his congratulatory message on the 40th anniversary of the birth of the Xiamen Special Economic Zone, Xiamen should serve and integrate into a new development paradigm to advance high-quality and integrated development across the Taiwan Straits.
Located to the west of the Straits, the city, which consists of a 160-square-kilometer island as its urban area and an area about 10 times that on the mainland, with over 60 percent of it being ecological reserve, has experienced four stages since its establishment as an SEZ, and it has taken full advantage of its comparative strengths in each stage.
In the 1980s, it took the lead to use foreign loans to build infrastructure thanks to the supporting policies of the central government; in the 1990s, a national high-tech development zone was founded on Xiamen island and it has developed into an important growth driver of the city; in the first decade of the 21st century its vast hinterland entered a fast-growth phase. And after 2012, due to the city's participation in the Belt and Road Initiative, BRICS cooperation mechanisms, as well as the national free trade zone and regional integration development strategies, Xiamen has pursued high-quality sustainable development.
Over the past 40 years, the economy of Xiamen has swelled 15 percent each year on average, and its government revenue has increased 18.1 percent. The gross domestic product of the city, with a population of 5.18 million, hit 638.4 billion yuan ($100.1 billion) in 2020, and its per capita GDP exceeded $20,000.
The city's opening-up has promoted its development. Currently, a total of 63 out of the world's top 500 corporations invest in 114 projects in Xiamen. And foreign companies contribute about 70 percent to Xiamen's industrial output, 60 percent to its economic growth and 40 percent to its exports and imports. And investors from the city invest in 1,581 projects in 74 countries and regions. Also, the port city has more than 160 sailing routes to 142 ports in 52 countries, and it ranked 14th in the world in terms of container throughput in 2020.
The city is also a center for innovation. It now has 2,282 national high-tech enterprises, 13 workstations for academicians and 138 national, provincial and municipal key laboratories. The number of patents per 10,000 people in the city is 2.4 times the national average.
Moreover, Xiamen not only benefits from reform and opening-up but also contributes to it. At least 30 reforms Xiamen has piloted in its free trade zone have been rolled out nationwide to facilitate trade and investment, streamline administration and boost innovations. Taiwan's reunification with the motherland is only a matter of time, and Xiamen has a solid foundation on which to play its role in the new cross-Straits development paradigm.