XIAMEN City, China—Xiamen, a bustling coastal city of Fujian province where many Chinese-Filipinos in the Philippines have traced their origin, vowed to grab an unprecedented opportunity from its hosting of the 9th BRICS Summit to enhance its economic and tourism development.
”BRICS hosting will boost further our economy and tourism industry,” Pei Jinjia, Party Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xiamen Municipal Committee, said at the recent launching of the 100-day countdown of full preparation for the 9th BRICS Summit.
”I believe the impact will be all dimensional. It’s a good and unprecedented opportunity to push further forward our development,” he added.
BRICS is a group of emerging economies like Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa with China as the rotating host of the annual forum set Sept. 3-5 this year.
With BRICS Summit hosting, Pei has expressed optimism that Xiamen’s tourist arrivals are expected to hit 70 million this year.
”Many tourists and visitors have already rushed into Xiamen City. Therefore, by hosting BRICS Summit, the whole city’s landscape and capacity will be upgraded immensely and we become international and gain experience in welcoming our guests,” Pei told local and foreign journalists.
The foreign journalists got the chance to visit some of Xiamen’s tourist spots in Kulangsu Island or Gulangyu Island where visitors can enjoy beautiful sceneries and ancient structures built during the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Called Yuanshazhou in ancient times and was referred to as ‘Paradise Upon Earth’ during the Ming dynasty, the 1.88-square-kilometer Kulangsu Island became an international settlement of travelers from western countries in the early 19th hundred.
Kulangsu History & Culture Museum, a former British consulate building, is showcasing the core value of the island’s cultural heritage and its efforts to preserve it along with western-influenced structures and artifacts.
Tourists can also enjoy a concrete walkway along the seashore heading to the 14,000-square-meter Shuzhuang Garden built by Taiwanese business tycoon Lin Erjia in 1913 at a cost of 250,000 silver dollars.
Located also in the garden is the Kulangsu Piano Museum which displays nearly 100 vintage pianos, including a two-century old square piano, collected by patriotic overseas Chinese musician Hu Youyi.
Not far away from Shuzhuang Garden is the Kulangsu Pipe Organ Museum, constructed in 1907 and now a gallery of over 60 antique pipe organ collections.
The newest attraction of the island is the Kulangsu Palace Museum, a former hospital which has been renovated to house vintage foreign artifact collections dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Another tourist attraction of Xiamen is the Zengcuo’an Cultural and Creative District where a former fishing village has been transformed into a Beijing’s Wangfujing-like district which contains more than 1,500 shops selling street foods and souvenirs.
”We want to consolidate Xiamen as a famous tourist destination, introduce a number of famous brand exhibitions, sports events and we will make efforts to improve our tourism resources and services like Gulangyu island; we would like to improve and utilize the brand value,” Pei said.
”Xiamen City does not only have beautiful landscapes but also diverse West-meets-East cultures. People are nice and the city is inclusive,” he added.
With accelerated balanced development throughout Xiamen, the island city has effectively enhanced its people’s sense of gain when it became one of the cities that pioneered China’s reform and opening up drive.
Xiamen has one of China’s four Special Economic Zones, making it one of the four international shipping centers in China and ranked 15th worldwide in terms of container throughput last year while its international airports operate 38 international routes.
In recent years, Xiamen took on several major pilot tasks, including Comprehensive Reform Pilot Area, Pilot Free Trade Zone and National Indigenous Innovation Demonstration Zone.
Xiamen Area of China (Fujian) Pilot Free Trade Zone initiated 42 first-of-its-kind innovative measures which significantly promoted the city’s business environment.
The software and information service industry is one of Xiamen’s pillar industries lead by Xiamen Software Park which contributed RMB 70.12 billion (USD 10 billion) of the total RMB 110.2 billion (USD 15.9 billion) revenue by the industry in 2016.
Located in Xiamen Software Park, Meitu is the city’s leading internet based company which currently ranked among the world’s top eight iOS non-game developers, along with global Internet giants Facebook, Google, Alibaba, Apple, Baidu, Microsoft and Tencent with 1.1 billion users as end of 2016.
”Hosting of BRICS is a good opportunity to showcase our achievements and progress made so far in implementing reforms and opening up policy,” Pei said.
He said BRICS Summit is also a good chance for Xiamen to encourage more multi-national foreign investors particularly BRICS countries to invest in the city.
Pei said the city seeks to upgrade its free trade zone into comprehensive reforms zones and build Xiamen into a strategic progressive city under the framework of the Build and Road Initiative.
”We will make Xiamen attractive to all kinds of factories because it is crucial in promoting a two-way trade investment in China under Build and Road Initiative,” Pei said.
”We want to build Xiamen into exemplary city for the concept of five developments: innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development,” Pei added.
He said Xiamen City will serve as bridge to connect maritime silk road and land silk boosted by China-Europe freight train which, this year, reached Poland and Moscow.
Pei said foreign trade volume of Xiamen hit USD 77.2 billion in 2016, the same year the city’s GDP reached RMB 373.7 billion (USD 54 billion) or 8 percent increase from previous year.
The 9th BRICS Summit has for its theme, “Strongest Partnership for a Brighter Future.”