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In China, it's all about size

by
August 08, 2017

The Xiamen Pilot Free Trade Zone boasts 5.9 million square metres of office and factory space.

When you go to China on a business trip it's all about size.

Whether it's a government facility, factory or store you visit, you can be sure to be given the lowdown of the area it covers, and some figures are just mind-blowing.

For example the Xiamen Pilot Free Trade Zone in the Chinese province of Fujian on the southeast coast of China covers 5.9 million square metres.

In comparison, the Barangaroo site on the edge of Sydney Harbour will cover just 220,000 square metres when finished.

The Xiamen complex boasts office and factory space and warehousing, as well as China's fifth largest airport and the country's seventh largest seaport - the 16th biggest in the world.

It houses rail transport and part of the starting point for China's ambitious 'Belt and Road' trade initiative which will connect China, central Asia, Russia and Europe.

The free trade zone also contains a business licence registration centre, which has streamlined the process so a foreign company can obtain all the necessary paperwork to set-up in China in two weeks, rather than the three to nine months it used to take not so long ago.

As impressive as this all sounds, such free trade zones have been in existence in the Fujian province on the southeast coast of China since 1978.

That's well before what many consider was the opening up of China when it launched its urbanisation program which triggered the mining boom in Australia in the early 2000s.

Further up the Fujian coast close to its Fuzhou capital lies the island of Pingtan, China's fifth largest island and itself a pilot free trade zone.

Linked to the mainland by a bridge with a second to follow, the complex contains the Industrial Park for Taiwan Youth, aimed at Taiwanese start-up companies and a move by China to ease the political tensions between the mainland and the self-imposed, self-governing island.

Taiwan-born Menpang Chen runs CR Technology which designs chips for watches, 3D decorations and 'smart' Christmas tree lights.

He told Australian journalists on an Australian-China Relations Institute sponsored tour of the province that he loves the complex, which contains accommodation and a cinema.

What's more, he pays no rent for his business premises and electricity is free.

Now that's a start-up initiative.

The island is also trying to boost international tourism, as is the rest of the province.

However, Su Jian Xiong, division chief of the Fujian Provincial Department of Commerce, is the first to concede tourists tend to be drawn to the big cities of Beijing and Shanghai.

So the aim is to become the second choice destination.

"I hope", Mr Su says.

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