Fengdu – Building on Its History
By staff reporters ZHOU CHANG & TIAN QIUPING
A panorama of Fengdu.
FENGDU County is located in the center of Chongqing Municipality, a two hours' drive from Chongqing International Airport, on the banks of the Yangtze River. It has a long history, with evidence of human occupation as long as 100,000 years ago. During the Zhou Dynasty (C 1100-256 B.C.) Fengdu was the capital of the mysterious Ba Kingdom, and later evolved into a cultural center for Confucianism, Taoism and a number of folk customs.
However, in the 1990s when other places in China were developing rapidly, Fengdu was preoccupied with preparations for a mass relocation. The original county seat was to be submerged by rising water levels brought about by the Three Gorges Dam. In 2001 the entire county began the move to higher ground and when the relocation was completed in 2005, all sectors of its economy other than agriculture lagged far behind. To make up for lost time, the people of Fengdu have since toiled away at rebuilding a prosperous city almost from scratch and brought new vitality to this age-old county.
Longing for Investment
Transportation is a primary concern for businessmen when choosing a place to invest, and, deep in a mountainous area, Fengdu's ability to attract investors is severely limited by its winding and bumpy roads. A motorcycle company once considered setting up a factory in Fengdu, but the plan was aborted after the inspecting manager saw that local roads could not accommodate their trucks.
To change this situation an improved traffic network is currently under construction. High-speed rail between Fengdu and eastern China will mean that Shanghai can be reached in just seven hours. By 2012, it will be possible to travel by train from Fengdu to Chongqing in 40 minutes, and expressways will cut the journey by road down to one hour. Fengdu can also take advantage of the Yangtze River for transport. The county now has 20 piers and 30 berths, and several more cargo terminals are expected to be constructed, handling millions to tens of millions of goods annually.
As these improvements to transport are not yet fully functional, Fengdu has enhanced other features to make the area tempting to investors. In addition to the state's incentives for western provinces and supportive policies to the Three Gorges region, the county government has introduced favorable policies locally concerning land supply, tax deduction, and transport subsidies, and its Economic Cooperation Bureau provides comprehensive, high-quality services to attract investors.
Companies that invest in Fengdu Industrial Park are helped through all procedures by the Economic Cooperation Bureau. To ensure investors receive a quality service and their complaints and suggestions are taken seriously, the local government has set up an array of regulations. As part of this, the Economic Cooperation Bureau must sign a written commitment to confirm its responsibility to investors and the responsibilities of relevant authorities are well defined. The Bureau organizes conventions and forums to help companies solve problems in construction and production. The bureau's considerate services have earned the trust of investors; businesses operating in the industrial park all express high satisfaction with the bureau's performance.
Fengdu Industrial Park currently covers an area of 20 square kilometers, and in future its size is expected to reach 50 square kilometers. The park is equipped with a complete infrastructure – wastewater treatment, 220 kV substation and career training center. It is divided into five specialized parks including one for textiles, one for building materials, and another for small and medium-sized companies. The Industrial Park focuses on machinery manufacturing, electronics, and the chemical industry.
Fengdu Administrative Service Center also provides a convenient and efficient service for investors. Established in November, 2001, the center was one of the first administrative centers in Chongqing Municipality. In 2007, it was moved to a downtown building at a well connected location, which makes its one-stop service much more accessible.
The Administrative Service Center offers a full range of services for major investment projects. It has transformed the process of approval for company registration, social security filing, infrastructure construction and so forth. Before the center was established, companies had to obtain approval from several different official departments in various locations, a time-consuming and complicated procedure. The Administrative Service Center has allowed the local government to integrate these separate procedures and make the whole process much more convenient for investors. Since 2007, efficiency has more than doubled and the average wait time for approvals has been cut from 17.8 to 5.3 days.