The Green Success of Xiangshui Eco-Chemical Industry Park


THE wide Guanhe River, bordering Yancheng and Lianyungang cities in Jiangsu Province, tapers just before emptying into the sea. The soaring tides rush through the narrow estuary, mimicking thunder, hence the name Xiangshui – Loud Waters.

The largest river in northern Jiangsu, the Guanhe hurtles down into the sea at its eternal tempo by the formerly unsung Xiangshui County in Yancheng City, which has carved out a niche in the regional economy for green power in salt-related chemical industries.

A Unique Chemicals Industrial Park

As the province’s only industrial park for the chemical sector, gathering a host of national honors for the trade, Xiangshui Ecological Chemical Industry Park has successfully wooed a number of top players in China’s chemicals and related industries. Among them are Jiangsu Yulang Chemical Co., Ltd., Lianhe Tech, Jiangsu Dahe Chlor-alkali Chemical Co., Ltd., Jiangsu Tianrong Group, New Universe International Group Ltd., Xiangshui Henryda Tech Chemical Co., Ltd, and Jiangsu Huaxu Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

“The Park was founded in June 2002, with a planned expanse of 20 square kilometers,” says Party Secretary Zhu Congguo. At present 65 businesses operate here, including six listed companies, and seven involving new and high technologies.”

From its very inception, Xiangshui Park has set out clear-cut targets – building itself into a large-scale, high-end salt-based chemical industrial base with distinctive features. So far, its development bodes well for the realization of such goals. Yulang Chemical Co., Ltd. has built Asia’s largest acrylic-acid production facility. A dozen companies have sought partnerships with foreign counterparts and local big names, cementing the Park’s status in China’s chemical industry.

Last year, Xiangshui Park notched up RMB 7.79 billion in sales and RMB 4.197 billion in industrial value-added output. Its investment in fixed assets totaled RMB 3.773 billion, with exports hitting US $320 million, and real-term foreign investment US $31.5 million. Its tax revenues stand at RMB 288 million. By all such indices, Xiangshui Park ranks among the best performers among all industrial parks in Yancheng.

Safety and Greenness: A Dual Priority

Xiangshui Park is one of the few salt-based chemical industrial parks with distinct green markings in China. Zhu Congguo notes that, from the very beginning, the industrial park planned on distinguishing itself from others, excelling in safe production and environmental-friendliness – all sensitive issues for Chinese industries, which every corporation must squarely face.

Workplace safety is a concern for both the management of the industrial park and its tenants. With a consensus that safe production starts with proper risk-prevention measures, the park has promoted an extensive multilayered safety network among local factories, which extends from the general manager to foreman of each workshop and production line. Every plant requires designation of specific persons for safety issues at every link in the production chain, working out its own regular monitoring and repair rules, as well as equipment replacement and upgrading programs. The industrial park sends out inspection teams to production frontlines, to monitor violations of workplace rules, and supervise tests and maintenance of machinery and fire-control equipment. The park administration also oversees design, revision and implementation of regulations and standards relevant to the production process and work positions.

“We stay on high alert for safe production, and convince enterprises to increase investments in safety infrastructures, improving intelligent management,” County Party Secretary Ma Junjian adds, describing his regular inspection tours of the industrial park, “Production safety demands persistent efforts. This involves awareness by officials at all levels and enterprises, as well as the public. Substantive actions must be taken, for we can never slack off in this regard.” He reiterates that safe production and environmental-friendliness are two red lines that businesses can never breach. County magistrate Cui Aiguo also heads safety inspection teams at the industrial park on major holidays and for other major events.

The industrial park places equal emphasis on environmental protection, and has established a scheme to coordinate work safety with local government environmental protection departments. It has so far implemented 22 projects, covering recycling, conservation and landscaping. The goal is to ensure high-efficiency production amid pleasant surroundings.

The industrial park has signed accountability pacts on landscaping and afforestation with member companies, resulting in an additional 20,000 square meters of green space along major roads, 12,000 more Chinese privet trees on the banks of the Xinfeng River, and an extra 53 hectares of forest elsewhere. Green belts have been developed on 133 hectares of farmland, with parklands laid down in nearby villages. These measures have increased the industrial park’s green cover from 20 percent to 36 percent, winning the first eco-friendly credential for provincial-level industrial parks in northern Jiangsu.

For the 2011-2015 period Xiangshui County has prioritized five pivotal areas for local development – industry, development of coastal areas, balanced growth of urban and rural areas, innovation and environmental protection, and inviting investment accordingly. The local government fully respects public opinion, and solicits advice on its development plans. All such efforts have ensured healthy and rapid socioeconomic development.

A Green Standard for Investors

One industrial park slogan is, “upgrading infrastructure, improving environment, building a pleasant green park, and developing a unique brand.” This is not just a catchphrase but a guideline for development. Earning the title “ecological” has taken the industrial park 10 years. It is not easy to safeguard such honors, as one reckless move might wholly destroy its reputation.

Chemical industry parks are usually the focal point of environmental assessment and inspection by the government, as they tend to be severely polluted areas. However, the people at Xiangshui Industrial Park hold that, as long as they set high standards and requirements, involving scientific planning and strict management, a chemical industry park can also pioneer a green development path. It can bring about not only economic and social benefits but ecological pluses, thus achieving a fundamental transformation in the economic development mode.

From the very beginning, this industrial park has taken advanced upgrading of the chemical industry as a key task for transforming the economic development mode. Aiming to develop a distinctive industry and incubate an industrial chain, the park has advanced from attracting investment indiscriminately to selectively, from inviting investment for a single project to inviting investment in industry, and then toward an industrial chain.

In recent years, conforming to a path of intensive operation, the industrial park has strictly followed national, industrial policy regarding projects’ permission. Giving a resounding “no” to projects involving high-energy consumption and serious pollution, it only invites beneficial industries that conform to the overall plan and environmental standards. It strictly follows this benchmark in attracting investment, committed to not sacrificing the environment for economic development, not lowering environmental standards to attract investment, not accepting any pollution accompanying industrial transfers, and not creating new pollution sources. As regards entry permission, the park takes both immediate and long-term development interests into consideration. Strict in its approval of enterprises entering the park, it refuses permission to projects failing to meet national industrial policy or to reach environmental protection standards, or linked to highly dangerous chemical projects. Permission is also denied for investments of less than RMB 100 million, if pollution prevention and control methods cannot be designed, constructed and implemented along with the major project.

For planned new projects, the permission threshold has been raised even further. An expert consultation and appraisal system has been established. At the negotiation stage, experts are invited to participate in the examination and verification of four items: if fixed-assets investment reaches RMB 100 million, if the project accords with national and local environmental protection policy and the industrial planning of the park, if it’s environment-friendly and resource-saving, and if its manufacturing techniques are safe. Failure to meet any of these conditions results in denial of the project at the negotiation stage. Meanwhile, the industrial park takes strengthening energy conservation and emission reduction as key to transforming economic growth patterns, adjusting the economic structure, optimizing industrial layout and reducing environmental risks. Closely following the requirements set by all levels of government, the industrial park has advanced pollution control and emission reduction while adjusting its industrial structure. Meanwhile, it has also urged enterprises to accelerate structural adjustment, to upgrade products, and to resolutely eliminate outmoded production capacities featuring heavy pollution and poor economic performance. It tries to leave more space for high-tech projects in the industrial chain featuring less pollution, low resource consumption and bright development prospects. The whole industrial park does its best to attract desired projects, while pushing forward transformation of development mode and upgrading of industrial structure.

The industrial park also places a premium on technical improvements and production capacity expansion. Aiming to develop small enterprises into bigger ones and build big enterprises into strong ones, the industrial park encourages enterprises enjoying rapid development that have strong innovation ability and bright development prospects to achieve technical improvements and production capacity expansion. In addition, it also pushes forward mergers and reorganization, introducing a project on upgrading small enterprises, in which it examines each enterprise with a low sales volume and small tax contribution, encouraging enterprises with similar products in the same industry to group together. It encourages powerful enterprises to merge small and medium-sized ones, so as to enliven stock production capacity, expand overall capacity, and strengthen competitiveness. It also pays attention to quickening the pace of such enterprises to go public, such as with the Tianrong Group, Dahe Chlor-Alkali Chemical and Daming Chemical, and to providing necessary services for companies to make acquisitions and go public.

Facts have borne out the Xiangshui Park’s practice of sticking to the bottom line in terms of safety and environmental protection, highlighting this theme in attracting investment and keeping to scientific development. It has thus avoided negative impacts in absorbing investment, instead bringing in a spate of great projects. It has extended and deepened the industrial chain, and also developed distinctive features. In this once barren saline-alkaline land, a group of green enterprises are now growing bigger and stronger.