Serious business

A new business hub: Zhoushan Archipelago New Area

Declared by the Chinese government as a state-level new area, Zhoushan is becoming one of the country's first free-trade ports. Words by JUSTIN HEIFETZ, illustration by REMKO HEEMSKERK

The Zhoushan Archipelago New Area, a large chain of islands south of Shanghai, is China’s main fishing base. In 2011, the government declared Zhoushan a state-level new area – like Shanghai’s massive Pudong district – to diversify the local economy as overfishing threatens local supply. It’s a free-trade zone, signifying relaxed regulations for foreign companies to operate there. The zone is set to form one of the country’s first free-trade ports.

One goal for Zhoushan is to ramp up seafood shipping, since fisheries are still the islands’ mainstay. Squid is king here, and the archipelago provides much of China’s domestic supply. The zone also handles large quantities of crude oil and coal, with green petrochemical bases and commodity trading facilities dotted across the islands.

The container ports of Ningbo and Zhoushan were merged in 2006, becoming the world’s busiest by cargo tonnage: it claims its throughput surpassed one billion tonnes last year, the world’s first port to reach this milestone. A network of cross-sea bridges has made it convenient to move between the two cities.

Zhoushan also has a burgeoning aviation sector. American plane maker Boeing has chosen the area for its first overseas factory and delivery centre, which will produce its 737 series. The facility is expected to be completed sometime this year and will yield 100 planes annually. Zhoushan’s airport, Putuoshan, is currently undergoing an RMB 680 million expansion to support the archipelago’s nascent aircraft industry.

Sheraton Zhoushan hotelno credit

Sheraton Zhoushan Hotel

This hotel geared towards business travellers is on the archipelago’s main island Dinghai, which has easy access to the New Area’s growing infrastructure – a network that the government calls its marine cluster.

YONGZHOU EXPRESSWAY
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Yongzhou Expressway

Five major cross-sea bridges connect Zhoushan to Ningbo along this highway. It effectively connects the archipelago to the Chinese mainland.

ZHOUSHAN FREE-TRADE PORT
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Zhoushan free-trade port

This port, planned to be designated one of China’s first free-trade ports,  covers about a fifth of the country’s deep-water shoreline. Apart from commodity trading, it’s also become a key spot for ship refuelling.

Fishing boats anchored in the port. From June.1, the
Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images

Shenjiamen fishing port

This is the largest fishing port in China, part of Zhoushan Fishery, which is China’s largest. There are about 300,000 fishermen in Zhoushan.

Cathay Dragon flies to Ningbo from Hong Kong 14 times a week

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