lives by selling something.”
and Situational Assets The best overall weather in China, combined
with one of the world’s best natural deep-water harbors, has helped
rank Xiamen’s 81 berth port in China’s top ten (#7 in China,
#40 worldwide). We handled over 27 million tons of cargo in 2,002 (half
of which my wife bought in Xiamen’s new shopping centers). Xiamen
is a natural port of call for ships linking over 60 ports in 40 countries—315
voyages each month!
But land’s the limit on a small gem like Xiamen, so we’ve invested almost 3 billion Yuan on the Haicang Suspension Bridge to connect Xiamen Island and the new 100 sq. km. Haicang Investment Zone (which a century ago, Dr. Sun Yat-sen envisioned as an “Oriental Mega-Port”). Stretching 1,108 meters across Xiamen Harbor, Haicang is the second longest suspension bridge of its type in the world.
natural port extends along 26 km. of coastline, and for 5.5 kilometers
the average depth is over 10 meters. A bay extending 3 nautical miles,
and a string of offshore islands that act as a natural breakwater, create
an ideal haven for ships. Back in Dr. Sun’s day, America’s
“Mobil” consortium and Britain’s “Asia”
had invested in Haicang and were using it as a petroleum transfer station
and marine refueling base, but only now are Haicang, and Xiamen, becoming
the super-port that Dr. Sun dreamed of—attracting even ships from
Taiwan, now that direct shipping has resumed. (I’m still hoping
for the day that passengers can just hop a boat back to Taiwan).
Xiamen’s extensive natural harbor, combined with her strategic proximity to Kong Kong and Taiwan province (a mere 100 miles as the fly flies ) makes Xiamen the natural gateway for overseas Chinese and others seeking to stake a claim in China. But just in case the slow boat to China isn’t fast enough, Xiamen also has one of China’s top airports, Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport. Over 22 airlines handle 400 flights a week to 89 domestic and international destinations, including Singapore, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Jakarta. We also have direct cargo flights to cities in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Nagoya of Japan, and Chicago. And planes landing at Xiamen’s new airport are a far cry from the four that landed in Xiamen Bay way back in 1924—on the first round the world flight.
the World—and China Too! .....On
April 6th, 1924, 3 years before Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic, four specially
built Douglas World Cruisers took off for an around the world flight.
They must have had more layovers than a cheap Korean Air flight at Christmas
because it took two full months to reach Amoy.
2. Social and Cultural Assets ......Gumption, more than geography, explains why over 350,000 overseas Chinese (and 70% of Taiwanese) now trace their ancestry back to coastal South Fujian. It took unusual gumption for tradition-bound Xiamen peasants to cut their ancestral apron strings and sail to every corner of the globe in search of work. Most of them toiled at menial labor, but many of them saved every penny, peso, and peseta to build industrial empires that even today exert great global influence. (I was not surprised when Time Magazine reported that overseas Chinese, not Tokyo, wield the greatest economic power in Asia today).
Most Chinese, of course, stayed behind in Xiamen. Maybe the prospect of capital punishment dampened their pioneering spirit. But they did not lack drive and initiative. They simply redirected it, and having proved themselves adept in the rice fields, they’re now going to town in the fields of industry, making Xiamen uniquely blessed by an abundance of highly motivated and qualified laborers, both skilled and unskilled.
Education in Xiamen .....At least
10% of Xiamen’s urban residents have higher education, thanks to
120 scientific research institutes, 8 universities and colleges, 12 poly-technics—and
Xiamen University’s excellent MBA program! (Phone: 218-6441). For
Chinese website, click
4. Economic and political .....Xiamen, as an SEZ, has been granted Provincial level authority and autonomy in economic administration and local legislative power. This gives Xiamen’s leadership unprecedented flexibility in guiding the development of this 1,516 sq. km. district, and insuring the best business environment for both domestic and foreign enterprises in Xiamen.
When we stepped off the slow boat to China in ’88, Xiamen was a dirty backwater town with inadequate and unreliable water, frequent power outages, heavy pollution, and abysmal infrastructure. The only tall building in town was the harbor’s Seaview Building, and foreign enterprises were not coming but going. But Xiamen did an about face after the arrival of Mayor Hong Yong Shi, who like Teddy Roosevelt “speaks softly but carries a big stick.”
.....In the early ’90s, electrical
blackouts were almost routine. When we had power, it could drop to 160
volts when a neighbor half a block away fired up an electric teakettle,
and surge up to 280 volts when they unplugged it. We used to fry more
computers and printers than fish and vegetables. But power is no longer
a current problem, thanks to Songyu Power Plant’s two 300,000 KW
generators, which supplement our Fujian Electric reserves (Xiamen also
has three reserve power plants).
Us a Line .....Phone service has
improved too. In 1989, I made only two phone calls, across campus. Neither
got through. But now we have direct dial service to 1800 Chinese cities
and over 210 countries or regions. And no more $500 U.S. deposit and 3
year wait for
a phone. Now its about $100, and installation is often same-day. In less
than a decade, we’ve gone from tin-can phones to having two phones
at home, plus cell phones, fax, internet, e-mail... We’re so well
connected that I sometimes long for the peace of yesteryear.
water supplies means we no longer have to catch water from mountain
runoffs behind Xiamen University. Xiamen’s daily water capacity
is 915,000 tons, which according to official sources is adequate to the
year 2,005. .........So in 2,006, it’s
back to the mountain runoffs?
Xiamen’s really cooking nowadays, thanks to dependable sources of natural gas and propane—and every other kind of gas, from oxygen to nitrogen, argon, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, coal gas and flatulence. Pass the beans?
An Apple a Day? ...... Zhongshan Hospital has a “Laowai Clinic,” and the Lifeline Clinic has foreign doctors and English-speaking staff. But our 1300 medical facilities may have less business now that Xiamen has cleaned up her act.
Cleans Up Her Act! .......Back in
1990, Xiamen was less than pristine. Her streets and sidewalks were covered
with litter, and a film of black coal soot coated much of our town, and
our lungs as well. Mary Poppins might see romance in coal-black, but it’s
a different kettle of soot in real life. But someone must have heard that
“Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” because by the mid ‘90s,
Beijing had recognized Xiamen as the cleanest city in China, with the
purest air. Xiamen has received awards like “National Sanitary City,”
“National Garden City” and “Model City for Environmental
Protection.” Over the past 20 years, Xiamen ranked #1 in economic
growth—and also #2 in environmental sustainability!
Read more about Xiamen, and her business opportunities, in "Amoy Magic--Guide to Xiamen and Fujian."
Fujian Guides Quanzhou Zhangzhou Longyan Wuyi Mtn Ningde Sanming Zhouning Taimu Mtn. Roundhouses Bridges Jiangxi Guilin Order Books Readers' Letters
Last Updated: May 2007 Back to Top