QINGDAO, China — Qingdao is a coastal city in China located in the Shandong Province. While Qingdao’s economy has struggled in the past, in recent years, Qingdao’s economy has been prospering and its annual GDP has been rising.
In 1999, 16.8 percent of Qingdao’s people and 12.1 percent of its immigrants were below the poverty line. In 2001, Qingdao bid for and began planning the 2008 Olympic Games. Both the sailing events and the Paralympic Games were held in the city. While some claim that the Olympics bought added prosperity to Qingdao, others contest those claims, stating that the Olympics only made the situation worse for the poor. According to The Guardian, “hundreds of households have been demolished and many human rights activists as well as ‘civilians’ have been imprisoned.” The Guardian also states that 20 percent of the households throughout China demolished for the Olympic Games are likely to experience poverty or extreme poverty.
It is difficult to examine poverty in Qingdao because there are many statistics that claim that poverty is no longer an issue because Qingdao is now prospering. According to the Foreign Affairs Office of Shandong Provincial People’s Government, Qingdao’s GDP in 2009 was 489 billion yuan, in the top ten among cities in China’s GDP. That was a 12.2 percent increase in GDP from the previous year. Qingdao also had a total financial revenue of 146.4 billion yuan that same year. The same article claims that the people of Qingdao have “pioneered a brand new-age from backwardness to progress and from poverty to richness by their diligence and wisdom.” It also states that Qingdao is now a tourist and port city that has a focus on marine science and technology.
Qingdao is now helping cities that are less fortunate. It—along with seven other coastal cities—have agreed to help the province of Guizhou to erase poverty. Guizhou has about 7.6 million people in poverty, or 21 percent of its population. The agreement, established in early 2014, is supposed to be mutually beneficial. As the mayor of Qingdao, Zhang Xinqi states, “Anshun (a city in western Guizhou to which Qingdao will provide aid) is rich in mineral resources…Qingdao has many companies or plants that need those resources.”
The fact that Qingdao is now able to invest in other cities and help them to rise from poverty suggests that poverty is no longer as big of an issue as it was in Qingdao when the 1999 report was published. This is apparently largely due to the new focus on technology in Qingdao and the rise of businesses and foreign investment. As the Shandong Foreign Affairs Office states, “the contracted value and business volume of foreign contracted projects, labor cooperation, and design consultation was 1.43 billion US dollars and 1 billion US dollars” respectively, “up 70.8 percent and 37.8 percent.”
The fact that Qingdao is investing in Anshun helps to suggest that Qingdao will be able to spread some of its new found wealth and prospering economy and encourage other cities in China to prosper as well.
– Ashrita Rau
Sources: The Guardian, China Daily, Foreign Affairs office of Shandong, International Labor Office