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New Office Aimed at Building Marine Sector

The State Development and Reform Commission and the State Oceanic Administration will jointly establish a special office to promote a national campaign aimed at developing the country's marine economy.

This is a "solid" step to fulfilling the country's ambitious goal of emerging as a "major marine economic power" by the year 2010, when over 5 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to come from the added value of the marine sector, Wang Hong, head of the general office of the administration, said Thursday at a news conference.

The administration Thursday published the first annual Bulletin of Marine Economic Statistics of China. It states that the country's added value of marine industries accounted for 3.8 percent of GDP in 2003.

This office is a continuation of a decision by the two authorities late last year which stipulates that provincial governments must develop marine activity programmes in line with national goals. The national office is the first of its kind in the country's history.

No schedule has been set for its establishment, but since provincial plans are due by next year, it will likely be set up later this year, said a source with the National Marine Programming Office under the administration.

The National Marine Programming Office is responsible for overseeing the provincial programmes until the office is established.

There are 13 major marine industries in China, such as oceanic fishery, seaside tourism, oceanic transport, oceanic oil and gas exploitation, sea sands exploitation, shipping, oceanic engineering and oceanic biomedicine.

Marine industries have been assuming an increasingly important position in the Chinese economy. Statistics from the administration indicate the total marine output value of the country reached 1,700 billion yuan (US$205.3 billion) between 1996 and 2000, 2.5 times the output from the previous five-year period.

Last year, the output of marine industries reached 1,007.8 billion yuan (US$121.7 billion).

Against this backdrop, the central government has acted against its government streamlining policy and made an exception to give the green light to increase staff at the administration.

Cheng Changsheng, an official with the State Commission Office on Public Sector Reform, confirmed the administration will have a new department this year for marine development.

Xu Qiwang, a leading expert with the State Marine Information Centre, qualified the status quo of the Chinese marine economy as "in the world's middle stream."

United Nations statistics point to a world average proportion of marine added value in GDP at around 4 percent.

This proportion is expects to hit 4 percent next year.

Xu believes China's marine economy will maintain a strong vitality in the next 10 years or so, which will surely provide a larger stage for various investors.

"The fast development of our marine economy needs the injection of more investment. New provincial programmes are expected to provide more encouraging policies in the regard," said the source with the National Marine Programming Office.

Paul Lam, a representative of a US investment company which has a successful joint-venture diving project in Zhuhai in South China's Guangdong Province, says he is optimistic about China's marine economy if the government continues to encourage the industry.

Therefore, the company plans to increase its cautious initial investment of US$400,000 to a "real big one" in the near future, he said.

The total marine output value of the Pearl Delta, where Zhuhai is located, was 211.2 billion yuan (US$25.5 billion) last year, ranking third among China's three major marine economic regions.

Meanwhile, the marine output values for the other two, the region bordering the Bohai Sea and the Yangtze River Delta, were respectively 277.8 billion yuan (US$33.6 billion) and 339.9 billion yuan (US$41.1 billion).

Oceanic fishery continues to take the lead among all marine industries in China, reporting an output value of 282.2 billion (US$34.1 billion) in 2003.

(China Daily February 20, 2004) 

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