A Small City's Big Transformation
  ·  2018-07-02  ·   Source: Editorial | NO. 27 JULY 5, 2018

Jinjiang, a county-level coastal city in southeast China's Fujian Province, has blazed a unique economic development path for itself based on its own conditions over the past four decades of reform and opening up.

Jinjiang is under the jurisdiction of Quanzhou, a city which was once the starting point of the ancient maritime Silk Road. Various religions including Islam, Buddhism and Manichaeism spread to the city via the ancient trade route, forming a unique culture, which is still traceable and visible in its cultural heritage sites and local legends.

In 1978, at the beginning of reform and opening up, Jinjiang was underdeveloped with a GDP of 145 million yuan ($22.2 million) and a per-capita GDP of 154 yuan ($23.6). Over the past four decades, the city has developed an economic model focusing on the real economy and private enterprises, nurturing a number of famous brands including China's largest tissue paper manufacturer, Hengan Group, and sportswear giants Anta, Xtep and Septwolves. A textile and garment sector and a shoe-making industry worth over 100 billion yuan ($15.2 billion) each, as well as five other industries valued at more than 10 billion yuan ($1.52 billion), have also been established.

Jinjiang is the ancestral home of 3 million overseas Chinese, three times the local population. Combined with 1 million migrants to the city, it is said that altogether there are 5 million people from Jinjiang around the world. The local government has attached great importance to people's welfare in order to make sure the results of economic growth are shared by all.

The city has worked to improve its medical care and pension systems, allow migrants to enjoy the same benefits as local citizens, and improve the living conditions of both urban and rural residents.

Last year, it was announced that Jinjiang will host the 18th Gymnasiade in 2020, marking an important step for this small city toward internationalization.

Today, Jinjiang has become a model of economic development for county-level cities in China. But what is the secret to its success? When then Governor of Fujian Province Xi Jinping inspected the city in 2002, he attributed Jinjiang's achievements to a market-oriented economy based on local advantages, the honesty of market participants, the strenuous efforts of local people and the guidance and services of the local government.

As Xi has since pointed out, Jinjiang is a successful example of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Jinjiang's experiences are valuable not only for Fujian, but southeast China and the country as a whole. The city is a microcosm of China's thriving private economy over the past few decades.

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