The brightest minds from home and abroad gathered in Qingdao for the Conference on Building a Creative Qingdao. Qingdao, the Chinese city in Shandong Province, already has a reputation as a forward looking place that’s determined to drive growth in science and technology, with the ultimate aim of furthering its progress towards becoming an open, modern, dynamic and stylish global city.
More than 500 guests attended the conference on 28th June at the Qingdao International Conference Center, including leaders from business and industry associations, as well as think tank leaders. Qingdao already has trade contacts with 216 countries and regions around the world, and completed USD 98.1 billion in foreign trade last year. The Conference on Building a Creative Qingdao shows that the city on the Yellow Sea understands how “borrowing foreign brains” is vital for mutually beneficial development - only by putting our best minds together can we build the best version of the future.
A shared future
The genesis of this conference can be traced back to when the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) held a meeting for its Council of Heads of Government of Member states in June of last year, hosted by President Xi Jinping in Qingdao. Speaking of “a community with a shared future for mankind” with international relations cooperation as its core, President Xi insisted that Qingdao should host the conference as a platform for creative exchange and inviting economic cooperation.
So in June of this year, one year after the first seeds were sowed, this is exactly what happened: Qingdao opened its doors to visitors. The Deputy Secretary-General of the SCO, Sherali Saidamir Jonon, was also in attendance as luminaries came from near and far to exchange ideas and gather insights. The conference opened with a debate on how to build a creative city, with the Secretary of Qingdao Municipal CPC Committee, Wang Qingxian, giving the keynote speech on building Qingdao for the future, and how creativity has been cemented as a cornerstone in the plans for the city’s future development.
The opening debate was followed by three sessions: on how opening up is vital to prosperity; on the factors in science and technology growth; and how to build a stylish city of world renown. Qingdao is heading into a growth spurt and the window is open for investors: already 156 of the world’s world top 500 enterprises have invested in 294 projects in Qingdao, and the city’s local government is continuously improving the conditions for investment and trade.
Sealing the deals
But the Conference on Building a Creative Qingdao wasn’t just a day for brainstorming ideas - plans that had been in the works were also finalised. Agreements were signed for projects such as the fairy tale-inspired theme park Evergrande Water World, a new regional headquarters for China Stone Management Consulting, as well as launching the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications Science and Technology Park.
A number of policies and measures were introduced, including a top-level design concept for the city developed in collaboration with international consultancy McKinsey. A new marine strategy was also introduced - Qingdao’s port is the world’s sixth largest, and the city is the main node city of the New Asia Europe continental bridge economic corridor. Qingdao is also proposing to build a new financial centre for international shipping trade, in order to encourage closer ties between shipping, trade and finance and ultimately, develop modern and efficient trade clusters.
As part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities network, Qingdao had its credentials in order already before the Conference on Building a Creative Qingdao. Film and cinema have played a significant part in forming the region’s cultural history, and Qingdao is investing heavily in the film industry innovation as a means to bloom also in economic and social terms. This conference shows that Qingdao is only just starting on the journey to becoming a creative hub that’s second to none - this stylish city just keeps pushing forward.